The owner and operator of one of the world’s largest casinos has hired a new lawyer amid a shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and the furlough of more than 5,000 employees. Foxwoods Resort Casino has appointed former Steptoe & Johnson partner Jody Cummings as its fourth general counsel in four years, reported Bloomberg.
The Office of Legal Counsel for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation installed Cummings, a former deputy solicitor and senior counselor for Indian affairs at the Interior Department. He held that position for more than three years before returning to serve as a partner at the Steptoe firm based in Washington State, specializing in American Indian law, natural resources, and environmental issues. His service for the Interior interrupted his previous 13-year tenure as an attorney at Steptoe & Johnson (September 2000 to mid-2013). Cummings earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2000 and his A.B. from Duke University in 1997. Cummings will oversee the legal strategy for all the Tribes’ entities.
Cummings succeeds Rion Ramirez, a former member of the Obama administration’s Commission on White House Fellowships, who previously led 27 Tribes in the renegotiation of their gaming compacts and negotiated the first-ever Tribal-state marijuana compact. After less than a year as the Mashantucket Tribe’s top lawyer, Ramirez returned to oversee Port Madison Enterprises in November. Ramirez now serves as CEO of Port Madison Enterprises, the economic development arm of the Suquamish Tribe in Washington and the operator of Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort near Seattle.
To offset revenue losses during the shutdown, Foxwoods as well as Mohegan Sun had requested Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont that the state permit the Tribes to operate “emergency” online gaming during the coronavirus crisis — a proposal that was readily shot down. “That process is simply not feasible or realistic during this crisis and while the legislature remains in recess,” Lamont wrote in response.