Thursday, November 19, 2009

Potential Default by Foxwoods Casino Will Test Tribal Sovereignty.

They can promise to pay, but claim sovereignty when the bill comes due.

From the

A looming default by the Native American tribe that owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut is stirring a debate over whether holders of billions of dollars of tribal debt can pursue their claims as creditors under US laws.

Federally recognised tribes operate as sovereign nations, and hundreds of them have turned to gaming for revenue, financing casino projects with debt including more than $5bn in high-yield bonds, according to Barclays Capital.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, warned this week that it probably would not make a full interest payment on $500m of notes, which would result in a default on December 16, when a grace period ends.

Smaller tribal casinos have defaulted, but the size of the Foxwoods debt has drawn attention. Analysts are asking whether the tribe will use its special status to take an aggressive stance in dealing with creditors, a development that could affect tribes' access to credit.

"The Mashantucket situation could set a precedent," Moody's Investors Service said. "With casinos such as Foxwoods located on sovereign tribal land potentially out of reach of US bankruptcy law, it remains unclear whether creditors could enforce their rights."

Steven Smith, an attorney at the Dechert law firm, said: "An argument can be made that the tribe is a governmental unit, which could, if determined to be true, bar it from seeking relief under Chapter 11 altogether."


Anonymous said...

If the Banks cannot profitably finance Indian Gaming, the Banks will simply open Gaming up to people that they can work with. Banks do not need Indian Tribal Governments to make a buck. They can always lend to people like Donald Trump, or the major Corporate Casino operators. Gambling laws are flexible and Banks certainly know how to get the laws that they need.

Indians need the banks to finance their Casinos. The tribes must make accommodation to Casino lenders regarding Tribal Sovereignty or Indian Gaming is finished. Many loan agreements between Banks and the tribes already contain language that make it unclear whether it is the Indians or the Bank that actually calls the shots. Casinos are a business, and in business the people putting up the money always reserve the right to call the shots.

Allen L. Lee said...

Tribes as debtor nations! Considering that U.S. tribes are under the jurisdiction of the greatest debtor nation in the world, being the U.S., the tribes aren't breaking any new ground.
It should be interesting to see how the feds approach tribal sovereignty and tribal debt. They should have little problem giving advice on how to function as a debtor nation.