The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs Thursday formally recognized the existence of an Indian tribe based in northwestern Connecticut, to the dismay of political leaders and residents who fear that the government designation will lead to the creation of a third casino in the state.
Richard L. Velky, the chief of the tribe, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, based in Kent, said he wanted time to savor the news before tackling the topic of whether the tribe would pursue the gambling business, but he did not rule out the possibility of a new casino.
“I’ve always said a casino might be within our view for economic development,” he said. “But we would need a host community before we pursued anything.”
The Schaghticokes (pronounced SKAT-a-coke) are the fourth tribe in Connecticut to receive federal recognition. Two others, the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans, operate highly profitable casinos. A third, the Eastern Pequots, was recognized in June 2002.
The state’s political leaders swiftly condemned the government’s decision to recognize a fourth tribe and vowed to appeal
The Castaways closed its casino and hotel Thursday, putting about 800 employees out of work at the 49 year old property formerly called the Showboat.
The closure of a second historic Las Vegas casino this month came Industry insiders expect the bankrupt property to remain closed, forcing its workers to seek new jobs.
When Vestin officials showed up around 3:10 p.m., the casino’s table game pit was immediately closed, and workers began a slow trek around the property, turning off banks of slot machines.
Hotel guests were told to vacate the premises, but at least one man toting a suitcase through the lobby Thursday evening said he’d had his Thursday room rate refunded when he checked out.