Mohegan Tribe opposes smoking ban

Mar 30, 2009 7:46 PM
by Ray Poirier | Talk about applying pressure: "Two Dogs" Bozsum, leader of the Mohegan Tribe, has warned Connecticut legislators he will withhold the state’s 25% share of slots revenue if they impose a smoking ban on the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort.

And the threat comes as the state faces a $7 billion shortfall.

Bozsum called a smoking ban "a slap in the face" to the tribal members who have shared their slots revenue with the state since they opened. The 25% share was negotiated by officials of the nearby Foxwoods Casino Resort a dozen years ago.

"It’s my job to protect the Mohegan Tribe," said "Two Dogs. Also, he said he tries to "do all I can to help Connecticut, especially in these hard times. I don’t want to see Connecticut hurt itself or shoot itself in the foot."

Bozsum was referring to the potential loss of revenue if a smoking ban were imposed on the casino operation. In other jurisdictions, smoking bans have caused casinos to lose between 12 and 25 percent of their gaming revenues.

The tribe would challenge any smoking ban in federal court after asserting its tribal sovereignty. During the litigation, Bozsum said he would place the state’s share of slots revenue in "an untouchable account" until the dispute is resolved.

Also expressing concern over tribal sovereignty was a spokesman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, operator of the Foxwoods Casino Resort.