Foxwoods Resort Runs Up $2 Billion Casino DebtMarch 29, 2012 3:39 pm
As owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe had been living in luxury for over two decades, with its 900 members regularly receiving shared revenue stipends of around $100,000 annually per person.
A quick glance around the Pequot’s small gated reservation in southeastern Connecticut would have revealed ranch-style homes with expensive cars parked outside, but it now looks like a long period of austerity lies ahead for the Native American tribe.
Apparently, Foxwoods Resort Casino has run up around $2 billion in debt, compounded by its $700 million MGM Grand hotel expansion project which opened in 2008. Soon after, demand fell, competition increased, and FBI agents then started visiting the reservation looking into tribal finances leading to the Pequots stopping stipends payments in 2010 as the tribe sought to restructure its colossal debt.
A few years on and the hardship suffered by Pequots has continued, with the tribe currently providing financial advice, help with utility bills and making other aid available to its members. Commenting on the situation, Roslyn Charles, 60, said that the Mashantucket Pequots were a family and would do whatever was necessary to survive the global economic downturn, which was hitting everybody. The elderly tribe member’s sentiment was further echoed in a council statement released recently, which read:
“The community is pulling together in these challenging economic times, and we are eagerly embracing our future with a strong determination to continue growing our business as a major economic force in southeastern Connecticut.”
Robert Burns who runs a farm on land bordering the reservation, also believes something positive can come about from the tribes recent troubles, and commented:
“I’ve always felt that stipend stood between them having the joy of being realistic members of our society and that, it many cases, it served as a device to separate them from the community. It may seem like a hardship, but it will give them the gift of learning how to function as a member of the larger society.”