After winning an illegal appropriation of lands lawsuit against the state of Connecticut in 1976, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe planned a casino resort that would eventually become one of the world's largest.
Foxwoods--the biggest casino in the Western Hemisphere—is seven million square feet in the boonies of southeastern Connecticut. Four hotels, endless casinos, over 20 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The billion-dollar building: one of only two self-contained gambling operations hitting ten figures in North America (the other is Mohegan Sun Casino, ten miles up the street). It's slogan "The Wonder of it All" pretty much sums the joint's history. Rising like Oz, Foxwood billows on a rural road lined with an arc of jade and aqua towers. It's enough to make a gambler's heart beat faster and subconsciously slam on the gas. Forty thousand people come everyday. Most of these people are men wearing wind pants with fake gold chains or are grandmothers.
All of this is thanks to one Richard "Skip" Hayward, a former pipe fitter who put the deal together at his pizza parlor and drinking at local bars. Yeah, Skip's now kind of a big deal, and would be perfectly played by Kenny Fucking Powers in the Hollywood adaptation. Skip was the man behind getting bingo parlors on Indian land in 1988 and later casinos. He was pulling down a million a year by 1994. But was the tribe behind Foxwoods tribe even real?
The Pequots had exactly one member living on tribal land in the 1970s: Skip's Grandma. English colonists had basically wiped out the tribe in a one-day battle in 1637. In the early 1900s there were only 11 Pequot families. A few survived the tribe's bloodlines have all been DNAed to the max and now there are 900 Pequots. By the mid-2000s payouts per tribe member hit $100,000 a year for a total of $500 million in the past two decades. Pequots, being humans, balled the fuck out and bought a lot of dumb shit like fancy cars and jewelry. All thanks to Skip's Grandma.
Compared to the Navajo and Cherokee tribes, who each have around 300,000 living members, the Pequots are small time. Native American median income is $33,000 versus $50,000 for the rest of the country. That places those whose native land actually was America at the exact same medium earnings as African Americans--whose slavery was essential in building the world's largest the economy. White people average double, at about $60,000 a year. Good deal: we kill you and steal your land, make a few million Africans into slaves, and now us white folk make twice as much money, gosh dang it! So yeah, the Pequots are 900 lucky Indians.
This all plays well with Foxwoods new slogan, "Anything but Ordinary." At the peak of the boom Foxwood hit $1.5 billion in revenues. And they did what everyone else in the gaming industry was doing at the time: expanded. Neighboring Mohegan Sun expanded in the early 2000s and actually hit close to $1.6 billion in 06. Foxwood had to keep with Jones, and wound up building a huge addition with Hard Rock Casino that opened when Lehman collapsed. Revenue dropped by half a billion.
Bad timing. Like the rest of America, the Pequots borrowed way too much during the bubble. Right now Foxwoods sits on $2.3 billion in debt. And the Pequots are no longer getting their $100,000 per member yearly pay out. In fact, many of them are going to work at Foxwoods, a once unthinkable job for a baller Indian. 2011 revenue was still at $1 billion but profits are up. The casino isn't going anywhere and, for one very small tribe, revenge on American genocide has been achieved.