Mashpee Wampanoags Get Extension on Casino

The panel overseeing the state’s casino gambling law voted has today to give a Native American tribe more time to pursue a tribal casino in Southeastern Massachusetts. The gaming commission was considering opening up the district to commercial competition. But they decided instead to wait 90 days to give the tribe another shot at winning a casino. Gaming Commissioner Steve Crosby said opening up the casino to commercial competition could send a negative message and harm Native American negotiations:

“It could be easily imputed from opening up the commercial process that we’re beginning to say that the tribe is inevitably not going to be successful.”

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has exclusive rights to develop a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts but faces major hurdles. The state’s gambling law gave the Mashpees until July 31st to establish a compact with Governor Deval Patrick, and if there was no agreement, the region was to be opened to commercial bidders. The federal government has rejected the deal the tribe negotiated with the Governor and now the July deadline has come and gone.

Crosby says the commission is trying to balance two competing interests – the rights of the native American tribe and the economic interests of Southeastern Massachusetts not to fall behind the rest of the state in job creation and casino development.

“There’s no perfect solution.  Nothing is without risk.”

The Gaming Commission plans to revisit the issue of opening the region to more casino proposals in March.