Meeting in Palmer Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to open up Southeastern Massachusetts to commercial casino bids. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is hoping to build a gambling facility in Taunton on land it owns. The Mashpee is waiting for the U-S Department of the Interior to place the property under trust, which woul dallow casino gambling on the site. Under gaming law, the tribe had exclusive rights to a casino in the southeastern part of the state. The Commission elected to open the region to commercial bids to keep its options open if the land is not placed under federal trust. The Mashpee negotiated a compact with Governor Deval Patrick which would provide the state with 17-percent of the revenue from a tribal casino. The agreement still needs approval from the State Legislature. Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell told the Commission prior to the vote the board should give the tribe more time.
“We will continue to believe you do not have the legal authority to do this. But again, I ask you, do not interfere with compacting process. Do not undermine the governor and the legislature. Do not interfere with our federal rights. Do not pave the way for four casinos. Do not put at risk hundreds-of-thousands of jobs.”
The Commission also unanimously passed a measure which would allow cities and towns to hold a referendum on casinos before background checks on potential gaming operators are completed by the Commission.