MASHUNTUCKET, Conn. -- State gambling regulators have ruled that Foxwoods
Resort Casino's new casino game with an Internet component is illegal and
violates the Mashuntucket Pequot Tribal Nation's gaming compact with the
A day after the state ruling, Mashuntuckets' Gaming Commission Chairman
George Henningsen said Foxwoods would further postpone the scheduled Aug.
15 launch of "PlayAway" but the game would not be canceled altogether.
Henningsen said he hoped the issue could be resolved without a court case.
In a tersely worded Aug. 12 letter to Paul A. Young, executive director of
the state's Division of Special Revenue, Henningsen said Foxwoods had
agreed to delay the launch of the PlayAway game, and would advise the state
of any proposed restart "at least 72 hours in advance."
Young had notified the tribe on Aug. 11 that the game violates the tribe's
gaming compact with the state and could not be offered on the casino's Web
PlayAway allows gamblers to buy keno tickets with an Internet access code
at the casino then check the Foxwoods Web site to see if they have a
The Web site allows customers to play a simulated slot machine or hand of
blackjack or poker for entertainment purposes. The results are
predetermined and the game doesn't involve winning or losing any money, but
the Web site did not explain that the game is an illusion.
Foxwoods officials argued PlayAway was not online gambling, but just
another way for customers to check their ticket numbers. Customers would
have to return to the casino to cash in their winning tickets.
But the state said the game illegally extends gambling off the reservation,
may entice minors to gamble and misleads customers into thinking they are
Foxwoods voluntarily agreed to shut down the game in July while DSR
regulators reviewed whether the game meets state and federal gaming laws,
concluding it did not.
"Without going into detail at this juncture, it is apparent we have
different views on virtually every aspect of your analysis/conclusions. As
we remain hopeful that these differences can yet be resolved without the
necessity of litigation, Foxwoods has agreed to our request to delay the
pending Aug. 15 PlayAway restart date so that we may continue to work
cooperatively at a measured and deliberate pace," Henningsen wrote.
In a statement released Aug. 11, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
said he supports the DSR's decision to disapprove the PlayAway game and is
prepared to go to court to defend the ruling, should Foxwoods resume the
game or challenge the decision in court.
"This game is plainly illegal -- it cannot be revived -- and we'll enforce
the ruling in court if necessary. I hope it is unnecessary - but I am
prepared to take appropriate, unprecedented legal action to enforce state
and federal law," Blumenthal said.
Foxwoods is the first casino in the country to try this type of Internet
gaming component. If it succeeds, other tribes around the country are
expected to try similar ventures.