HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Tribal payments are coming to an end for Mashantucket Pequot Tribe members who once received a monthly share of casino revenue, a person familiar with tribal actions said Friday.
The tribe, which runs the Foxwoods Resort Casino, halted a per-capita distribution of gambling revenue in 2010 amid financial struggles, said the person who on spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity over the details of the assistance. The person said transitional payments then started at the reduced amount of $1,500 per month to help members adjust, but they gradually were decreased to $500 with the last payment coming Friday.
A spokesman for the Mashantuckets, Bill Satti, said the tribe does not comment on "personal matters of this nature."
The tribe still provides for members in areas such as education, but the shriveling of the revenue sharing marks the end of one of the premier benefits for the tribe that opened one of the world's largest casinos.
The end of the payments was first reported by The Day of New London.
Foxwoods opened in 1992 and expanded in 2008 with the $700 million MGM Grand, a 30-story property that includes a casino, hotel and a 4,000-seat performing arts theater. But the casino and its neighbor, the Mohegan Sun, have been struggling with weak consumer demand since the economic downturn and growing competition in the Northeast. Foxwoods is in talks to resolve hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.
For several years now, tribal officials have been preparing members for the cutbacks.
In 2009, the then-chairman of the Mashantuckets, Michael J. Thomas, warned in a letter to tribal members that financial difficulties threatened their living standards.
"These are dire financial times for our tribe," Thomas wrote in the letter. "The situation is serious and threatens our tribe."
The Transitional Income Supplemental Payments, which began in January 2011, were paid out to adult tribal members the first Friday of each month, according to the person familiar with tribal actions, who said the payments were far higher than $1,500 a month before the economy soured.
For months, the person said, tribal members have been urged to pursue financial counseling offered through the tribal council chairman's office in correspondence that also included names and numbers of state social service agencies and food pantries. The person said the tribe also created its own assistance program called "Beans and Jeans," a place where families in need can obtain donated food and clothing.
A spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Social Services , David Dearborn, said the office serving southeast Connecticut has not seen any inordinate increase in applications.
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