The Mashantucket Pequot Indians were on top of the world less than 20 years ago. Today, they’re hurting.

This past week the Connecticut Indian tribe and its partners when, according to New London (CT) newspaper The Day reported the consortium achieved a small victory when the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of a bankruptcy court who said the tribe’s development group wasn’t entitled to $50 million they invested in a failed plan to build a casino in Philadelphia.

Should the development group win the appeal, it is unclear how the partners will divide the money.

The Foxwoods-Philly saga started in 2006

The name of the tribe’s development group was Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners. The faction included Philadelphia businessmen who joined the tribe in their efforts to bring Philly its first casino.

The development bought one of two available casino licenses for $50 million back in 2006. Over the next three years, numerous delays and mistakes tanked the casino development. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) revoked the group’s license in Dec. 2010, ending four years of frustration.

The failed casino venture compounded the Pequot tribe’s financial issues. Dissension among tribal leaders and a costly casino expansion with MGM dragged the tribe into dark days.

A 2007 article from the New York Times talks about the tribe’s extensive wealth and how  a group of less than 100 Native Americans created one of the most profitable casinos in the world and bring unprecedented wealth to its people.

However, by 2014 the tribe was on the hook for $1.7 billion in debt. The tribe accrued much of that debt when it expanded its casino property. Not long after, competing casinos in the state and across state lines siphoned away gamblers.

Downtown Philly’s second casino is on its way

When the Pequots’ development group won the bid for one of two Philly casino licenses in 2006, the City of Brotherly Love looked poised to burst onto the gambling scene. SugarHouse also won a license that year. Only one casino survived.

Fast forward to 2018. Twelve years later, downtown Philly is getting its second casino. Stadium Casino LLC has plans to start development this year on Philly Live!, a property that will provide some serious competition for old-guard casino SugarHouse.

In addition to securing the permits to start demo on the site of their future casino, Stadium Gaming upped the proverbial ante when it was announced this past month they won the second satellite casino license auction in Harrisburg.

Both of these projects, however, aren’t scheduled to be completed anytime soon. Philly Live! has a 2020 target date and there’s still no word on when the satellite casino is scheduled to start.

Stadium Casino’s play for the satellite was a significant one because the group will build just 40 miles east of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County. What makes this move interesting is that Pittsburgh has been the home turf for Rivers Casino, whose owners, Rush Street Gaming, also own SugarHouse.

Photo by Boston Globe / Getty Images