The State of Massachusetts continues to grind out news in it’s expansion in the gambling industry. Some things are beginning to settle down, but other areas continue to ramp up. Here’s a look back at the past few weeks:
The Wampanoag Aquinnah Tribe of Cape Cod Meeting last week rejected a petition requesting that the tribe give up its efforts to build a gaming facility on tribal lands in the smallest town on Martha’s Vineyard. “According to the tribal constitution, a referendum requires a two-thirds majority to pass,” Mr. Vanderhoop said, “and this initiative did not attain the required number of votes to become binding on the tribe. The will of our citizens, based on the result of today’s vote, is that there will be no change in the present course of the tribe.” So, changing the community center to a bingo hall is still on for the smallest town on Cape Cod.
The residents don’t want it. Zoning and code changes were sited for some of the residential resentment. But if it’s tribal land, what final say do they really have?
This might not have gained recent tribal support if the Mashpee Wampanoags hadn’t been given preferential treatment when Gov.Patrick signed the state’s 2011 expanded gaming law. Soon after, interest in a Class II casino began.
The other tribal news in the Bay state is that the Mashpee Wampanoags decade long quest for federal/state recognition and a casino in Taunton got closer to becoming reality. According to Gerry Tuoti of Wicked Local, “The Bureau of Indian Affairs, in an Aug. 26 letter, states that while there is not yet a set date on a decision for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s federal land-into-trust application, it is now accepting comments in advance of a ruling on the tribe’s proposal to establish a reservation in Mashpee and Taunton. Tribal leaders hope to build a $500 million casino in Taunton under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”
Marc Laroque of the Taunton Gazette reported Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye saying “…the BIA notification is encouraging because it could mean a decision is on the horizon.” Whenever they decide and whatever the decision is, the Taunton City Council will be informed.
So what if Taunton could have a tribal casino, and Brockton still continued it’s quest for the remaining Mass casino license? What would the brain trust in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission do?
Consider the saturation issue with Brockton, Taunton & Plainville (Plainridge Park). These three casinos alone are only 20 miles away from each other. Then add in these figures:
Brockton to Everett(Wynn) = 30 miles; Taunton to Everett = 45 miles; Lincoln, RI (Twin River Casino) to Everett = 55 miles.
That’s six casinos inside 60 miles!
Would the MGC consider either Taunton or Brockton, but not both? A compact between the state and the Mashpee Wampanoags stipulates that a tribal casino in Taunton would pay the state 17 percent of its gambling revenue in lieu of taxes. But if there is another casino in Region C, the tribe would pay the state nothing under the agreement, causing two casinos to compete, but only one adding to the state’s financial coffers.
That’s all for now.