Casino Projects – Wynn Boston Harbor, Mashpee First Light and Brockton Fairgrounds, oh my! – Part #2

Let’s continue to take check out Massachusetts’s Casino “Explosion in the East.” Part #2 looks into the Mashpee Wampanoags “First Light” project in Taunton.

First Light

“First Light” –  latest rendering of The Mashpee Wampanoags casino project.

Sean Murphy of the Boston Globe has been covering the progress of “First Light.” Tribal leaders, he said, told the Gaming Commission they intend to go forward with First Light Resort and Casino in the subsequent month, with the construction at the 150-acre site beginning next month, and will have the casino portion open for business by the summer of 2017. When complete, a review casino is approaching to embody 3,000 slots, 150 table games, 40 poker tables, restaurants, lounges, an indoor pool/nightclub, 9 retail stores, 900 hotel rooms, a 31,000-square-foot ballroom, a spa, a water park and roughly 5,000 parking spaces.

First Light BannerBut, it has been suggested that the tribe proceed cautiously in light of a lawsuit filed to block the project. The law suit that could hold up breaking ground on the project for five years or more.

Murphy continues to explain that under federal law, the Mashpee tribe can open a casino without the state’s blessing while promoters of a proposed casino in Brockton must have the state’s approval to proceed.

Southeast Masssachusetts & Rhode Island

Southeast Masssachusetts & Rhode Island

If the state were to grant its final available license for the Brockton casino, it would mean that two full casinos could open just 20 miles apart in a market already at risk of saturation, and the Brockton approval would send zero gaming revenue to the state of Massachusetts because of the Brockton presence.  Without Brockton open, the Mashpees agreed to paying a 17 percent tax in exchange for exclusive rights in Region C. The Mashpee Wampanoags have also agreed to make about $14 million in annual payments to Taunton. The casino would provide up to 1,000 construction jobs and 2,600 permanent jobs.

First Light rendering

First Light rendering

An anti-casino group has enlisted local landowners to challenge the federal decision awarding the land to the tribe.  The 3,000-member Mashpee have spent decades and millions to get federal recognition of their tribe, the necessary first step to the right to open a casino, and $35 million to purchase the East Taunton plot. They now vow to take on all challengers to their intention to open a gambling resort.

Taughton SignBut the biggest challenger may actually be history.  While oppenents say that the Mashpees have no history in Taunton, the tribe argues that it is well within the tribe’s “aboriginal footprint,” which the Mashpee define as most of Eastern Massachusetts, from Cape Ann to Narragansett Bay.

According to Sean Murphy in another post for the Boston Globe, “The dispute extends beyond any written titles to the land, which began with the arrival of European settlers in the early 1600s. At its foundation are clashing ancestral claims to the site from the Mashpee Wampanoag and the Pocasset Pokanoket tribes.”  The bureau accepted the version of history that the Wampanoags were then known as the Pokanoket and most of their tribes were driven out of Taunton and other areas after the disastrous King Philip’s War.”


New England Tribes locations at the time of King Phillips War

New England Tribes locations at the time of King Phillips War

uch of the distinction of tribal genealogy relies on records, many lost due to New World Settlers wars with tribal nations lost forever.

At this juncture, it seems “First Light” is a “go” – unless the law suit sticks and holds things up, much like what is happening in Everett with Wynn Boston Harbor.

And that’s what we tackle next.  Tomorrow, it’s about Steve-o and Wynn Boston Harbor.



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