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Lawmakers want casino probe from Interior watchdog

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Lawmakers want casino probe

Connecticut lawmakers are asking the Interior Department’s inspector general to launch an investigation into why a pair of Indian tribes are being prevented from opening a new casino in the state.

Interior has refused to sign off on an arrangement that would allow the new Connecticut casino to open within a deadline prescribed by federal law. The agency's inaction followed an intensive lobbying campaign from MGM Resorts International, which is opening a competing casino nearby.

The state of Connecticut and Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have already sued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and now several members of the state’s congressional delegation want the IG to look into the process.

MGM and its allies had direct access to Zinke and other senior Interior officials in the months before Interior refused to sign off on the tribes’ plan, and the company hired several well-connected lobbyists to push its case with the Trump administration, as POLITICO reported this month. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Reps. John Larson and Joe Courtney, all Democrats, cite that article in their request for an investigation.

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