Mashpee Wampanoag Proposed Casino Faces Hurdles

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe plans to build a 550-million dollar casino complex that’s facing federal, and now state, hurdles. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell says the current agreement with the state is good for the tribe and for Massachusetts citizens:

“The tribal state compact protects and honors the tribal rights while also protecting the citizens of the commonwealth of massachusetts.  so instead of competeing with the commonwealth, let’s collaborate.  let’s create something very important in South Eastern Massachusetts.” 

Both sides —thought– they had that important deal. But the the federal bureau of Indian affairs rejected it. So the tribe and the state agreed to lower the state’s take from the Casino, from 21% down to 17%. At a Legislative hearing, lawmakers demanded assurances that the revised compact would pass federal approval. Governor Patrick’s deputy legal counsel, Nick Martinelli, urged lawmakers to ratify the compact and act quickly:

“The commonwealth’s interest and the tribe’s interest are aligned right now, and that’s not necessarily always going to be the case.  So we have an agreement we think is good for both sides.  The circumstances could change overtime.  The tribe could have its land taken into trust, the gaming commission could move forward with a commercial casino, that would change leverage on both sides.”

This week, the tribe ramped up it’s public campaign by showing off new casino designs to the Taunton City Council. Architectural drawings are one thing…but more important could  be the anticipated 25-hundred permanent jobs and $80 million in annual payroll the casino would generate. The tribe thought it has an exclusive path to Southeastern Massachusetts’s only casino, but the state Gaming Commission has voted to allow commercial developers to bid too. That’s because the tribe faces legal hurdles securing the land in Taunton.  Wampanoag chairman Cromwell says the tribe is making great progress..and even without the state approval of the compact, it intends to move forward with a casino in Taunton.  If the state doesn’t approve the compact, the tribe says it will keep all the revenue it makes.