Pequot Museum at Foxwoods – Native American Heritage Month Honoring Mother Earth

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.  This month, we continue to honor those who were native to this land.

Last Friday the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation hosted a kick-off event themed, “Honoring Mother Earth. The event at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center included an art display, environmental poems written by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Members, social dances, flute player, crafts, vendors, photo opportunities and much more.

Mashetucket Pequot Museum, Foxwoods

An exhibit at the Pequot Museum now until November 18th, “Our” Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History,” is an educational and cultural exhibit about the history and traditions of the Wampanoag Tribe, and revisits events that have been historical footnotes until now despite the significant impact they had on colonization. The exhibit was created to bring to light key legacies of America’s earliest beginnings from the Wampanoag perspective, a perspective that has largely been left out of the narrative of this iconic moment in American history.

Veterans Powwow

This weekend, the Pequot Tribal Nation is thanking this Country’s greatest heroes at our 2017 Veterans Powwow. This event is open to all Native and non-native veterans, active duty military and their families, museum members as well as the general public.  Free Admission:

The following individuals are allowed free admission into the museum during the Veterans Powwow

– Native and non-native veterans with ID and one (1) guest

– Native and non-native active duty military and one (1) guest

– Museum Members

– Children under 6

Complimentary Food:To honor and thank service members we will be offering a complimentary meal of succotash or chowder and corn cakes or fry bread to veterans/active duty military and one (1) guest.

Guests (adults, seniors, students and youth 6-17) can purchase powwow access tickets only for $10 if they want to experience only the powwow in the Gathering Space. Children under 6 are free.

Food Specials

FEAST : A NATIVE THANKSGIVING – On Saturday, November 18, from  3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, enjoy a feast – a very special Native Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner. Enjoy entrees like stuffed fish, venison roast, Indian stuffed pumpkin, and of course, turkey!  The buffet features locally sourced, made by Chef Sherry, delicious items including breads, soups, salads, sides, entrees and desserts. Museum Members – $55
Non-museum Members – $75
Children 12 and under* – $35 (Same price for member child/non-member child)

Members are invited, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, for a special happy hour with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. 

In Foxwoods Resort Casino, in honor of Native American Heritage Month, Cedars Steakhouse and the Veranda Cafe will be offering native american cuisine every Wednesday & Thursday in November.

For more information and a calendar of events, go to Pequot Museum.

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CT Sign

Connecticut’s Third Casino – Four Links to the Latest Spin

Oh, what a tangled web we weave….

The addition of a third casino in Connecticut continues to drag on, while MGM Springfield continues to rise ahead of schedule.  The spin on the latest events in this “battle at the border” between Massachusetts and the Nutmeg State continues to grind. The many talking heads involved are all after the same thing – control, or at least having a piece, of the New England Casino landscape.

To keep you up-to-date, NETimeGambling is providing this time line of the last two weeks’ events, with links to articles that explain further.

MAY 1st “Finance committee allows its third-casino bill to die”

Connecticut State Capitol

As reported in the Day by Brian Hallenbeck, a bill that was meant to call for commercial competitive bidding for a third casino was never sent to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, causing it to fail on the House floor.  The bill “encountered considerable opposition.” Contrary to that opposition, due to expected losses in state jobs and revenue, was the following article……

May 17th “MGM poll: 71% of likely voters want open bid for third casino”

It seems that MGM Resorts International, which is building MGM Springfield Casino/Resort 15 minutes north over the CT/MA border, knows what is best for Connecticut.  They have known all along, if you trace the history of this casino war – or so MGM feels they do. According to Eric Bedner of the Journal Inquirer in RI just a few days ago, MGM revealed that a statewide survey (commissioned in part by MGM Resorts International) shows that 71 percent of likely Connecticut voters support legislation that would establish a competitive bid process for a third casino.  WOW!  That’s just the opposite, and a very high percentage, that want competitive bidding!  But wasn’t there opposition to that? (read above article).  And the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes released a study by gaming expert Dr. Clyde Barrow that shows the competitive bid process could cost CT up to $85.6 million annually. “”There is no math that makes Connecticut’s first commercial gaming enterprise work for the state if it’s not operated by the two federally recognized tribes,” wrote Dr. Barrow. “For the State of Connecticut to merely break even in terms of state revenue, a competitively bid third casino would need to generate $1.063 billion in gross gaming revenue annually. There is not a single commercial casino in the United States generates that level of gaming revenue.”

In case you’re wondering why MGM is in favor of a casino being built, it is not due to a new found empathy towards Connecticut.  It is simply because MGM could build another casino in south-western CT, but not near the border where the joint venture of the Pequots & Mohegans would build.  Why? – MGM’s agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts includes not building a competing casino within a radius of 90 miles, which crosses over into Connecticut to far to be considered near Hartford and north.  But, days before this…….

May 16th – Schaghticokes Push Back As State Seeks To Dismiss Lawsuit

Schaghticokes were denied recognition by state.

Schaghticokes were denied recognition by state.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation from Kent, CT in the north-western part of the state, continues to insist on its due piece of the casino pie. For and explanation previous history of the Schaghticokes & MGM, check out a previous NETimeGambling post entitled “Casino Industry Finds Strange Bedfellows In Connecticut & Maine.”  The difficulty for the tribe from Kent is that they are still not federally recognized.

May 18th – Tribes get BIA letter helpful to their bid for a third casino

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

The CT Mirror and  have been on top of the third casino situation since its inception.  Recently, they reported  the Bureau of Indian Affairs confirmed that “A commercial casino operated by Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes would not jeopardize their revenue-sharing deal with the state,” contrary to other reports surfacing, influenced by MGM.  It had been rumored, around the time of both casino bills being published, that the third casino by MMCT (the joint venture of Pequots & Mohegans)  would “invalidate a deal in which the tribes were granted exclusive rights to casino gambling in Connecticut in return for a 25 percent share of gross slots revenues.” This recent article by The Mirror explains the most recent opinion handed down by the BIA.

After reading these posts and articles, what do you think is going to happen?  Many questions remain.  But who is most concerned about Connecticut’s third casino?

  • How worried is Connecticut in losing jobs, revenue, and diminishing the huge 1-2 gaming punch that Foxwoods and the Sun have brought to New England and the US?
  • How worried is Massachusetts in the fruition of success that MGM Springfield has promised?
  • How worried is MGM International concerning their latest project in Springfield – the invention of the “urban casino/resort?”

Only time will tell.  That’s all for now.

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Martha’s Vineyard Decision Reversed

Earlier in July of 2015, Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head tribal officials announced that they planned to convert an unfinished community center on the island into a gambling venue. Let’s be real, this is not a world-class casino proposal. The building, which spreads over 6,500 square feet, is located on Aquinnah Wampanoag reservation land, was intended to be a Class II Bingo hall.  People will not be flocking from across the country to visit this casino, instead of visiting Twin River, Newport, Wynn Boston Harbor or the CT casinos.

Wampanoag Community Center and Future Bingo Hall gets new life.

But the tribe was ordered by a federal judge to stop the construction of a building located on Martha’s Vineyard.  Why?

1) the tribe started construction work without acquiring the necessary building permit, and 2)  under certain zoning restrictions, a casino venue is prohibited from being opened there.

Martha's Vineyard MapAlso, according to local officials, the tribe forfeited its right to offer gaming on their land when they signed a land settlement agreement in 1983, an act that subjects them to state and local laws.

In order to prevent the tribe from proceeding with its plan, Aquinnah officials had filed an injunction to the U.S. District Court. Scott D. Crowell, lawyer for the Aquinnah Wampanoag, argued that authorities’ jurisdiction over the tribe is limited. In addition, under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, (five years after the initial land settlement agreement) the tribe has the right to run a gambling property on reservation land and it cannot be denied that right or at least not by the town. In other words, they cannot ban the project.

When Native Tribes across the country are being allowed to thrive and raise the quality of life for their communities, why is New England seemingly so anti-Native American?

Well, that could be changing.

According to NECN, that gambling hall on Martha’s Vineyard gained a second life Tuesday after a federal appeals court reversed a lower court decision blocking the long-sought project.

“The decision made public Tuesday ruled the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe exercises sufficient government powers on its lands to be considered a sovereign tribal nation that can conduct limited gambling under federal law without seeking local approvals. ……Supporters within the tribe have countered that casino revenues, which tribal leaders have suggested could be as much as $4.5 million a year, would allow their government to offer more critical services where the majority of its citizens live off island, in parts of southeastern Massachusetts near the Rhode Island state line.”

Tribal nation sovereignty has been given a boost, as it should.

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Maine Opposition To Tribal Gaming is Prejudicial

While Connecticut waits for a legislative decision to possibly allow a commercial casino to accompany the tribal casino monopoly, Maine has just been dealt with the opposite proposal – a tribal casino to be allowed in a state of commercial gaming casinos.

According to Focusgn.com, Maine’s state legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee discussed the possibility of legalizing a bill that would allow tribes to offer casino gaming in the state. Rep. Benjamin Collings, D-Portland, said that the tribes should be able to create an economic system that would bring benefits to the tribes.

300px-Wohngebiet_MaliseetSeveral other casinos proposals have been made over the years by multiple Indian tribes, but with little success.  The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians tried to bring a casino into Aroostook County four years ago. In 2003, efforts by the Passamaquoddy tribe and Penobscot Nation to build a casino in Sanford were rejected in a statewide vote while the Hollywood Casino was approved on the same ballot. A Passamaquoddy owned and operated casino and race track facility in Washington County was also voted down in 2007. Similar efforts for another tribal racino in Washington County were also thrown out when the Maine Racino Initiative was rejected in 2011.

passam_crest2

Passamaquaddy Crest

In 2013, the Penobscot Indian Nation has tried to pass a bill to enhance its existing gaming operation—a 30-year-old traditional bingo enterprise that uses a bingo caller and bingo cards. And it’s the fifth year in a row its efforts have been thwarted by the state.  But Maine officials claimed that the Nation’s proposed Class II bingo machines are really Class III slot machines—a claim that’s refuted by two of the most reputable companies in the country that manufacture, test and certify gaming machines.  Class III is a designation applied only to “tribal” casinos and are Vegas-style Slot Machines used on tribal casinos such as Mohegan Sun, & Foxwoods.  They are exactly the same, Class II are tribal casino machines that work as a bingo machine and may look like a slot machine, but doesn’t act like one in paying off the player.  Check out the following links for more info on Class II & Class III.

Legal Distinction Between Class II and III Gaming Causes Innovation, Anguish

Slot Machines, VLT’s What’s the Difference? – John Grochowski Explains

Indian-gaming-JCR.jpg

Chief Kirk Francis talks about why Penobscot Nation officials are upset by the state’s delay of license request that would allow the tribe to use Bingo machines. The state says they’re slot machines, the tribe says it’s part of Bingo operations.

So why is 2017 so different? Maine has, in the past been accused of pursuing policies that force the state’s recognized tribes into a cycle of dependence rather than fostering economic self-sufficiency. Maine currently has two commercial casinos, Oxford Casino and the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor, while the Passamaquoddy tribe operates a high-stakes bingo parlor in Indian Township.

This bill would authorize the Department of Public Safety, Gambling Control Board to accept applications for casino licenses from the states four recognized tribes,which comprise five tribal communities: the Micmac, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot.

These licenses would permit the operation of table games and up to 1,500 slot machines at multiple facilities. It would also exempt the tribes from the state regulation that no casino may be built within 100 miles of an existing casino or slot machine facility. Twenty-five percent of net slot machine revenue and 16 percent of net table game revenue go the state general fund.

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

York County, Maine, on the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed.

As one can imagine, Hollywood Bangor & Oxford Casino officials are not too happy.  It has another fight to the southwest of Maine – a proposed York County casino.  The Legislature is expected to put the casino question to voters in November because backers collected enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Lawmakers criticized an effort to bring a casino to York County saying the company behind the proposal has a questionable history and would be handed exclusive and lucrative rights to build the casino if voters approve.

Could Maine support all these possibilities?  Probably Not.  While it is the 39th largest state in the Union – larger than South Carolina  & W. Virginia,  and slightly smaller than Indiana – only 10 states have less residents, three of which are also in New England!  Tribals nations in the north do have the distance away from New England casinos and a close proximity to Canada.  But York County?  That’s another question that won’t be answered for a while – if it ever gets approved.

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Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center Opens New Exhibit

pequot-warThe Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center will open a new exhibit Oct. 1, 2016 on the results of their seven year study of the Battlefields of the Pequot War project (1636-1637).

The exhibit will display military and personal objects recovered for the Battle of Mistick Fort and the Battle of the English Withdrawal on May 26, 1637.

Musuem members will be invited to preview this exhibit on Friday, September 30, 2016. Museum members can reserve a space by emailing membership@pequotmuseum.org.

Mashetucket Pequot Museum, Foxwoods

Mashatucket Pequot Museum, Foxwoods

For more in-depth historical information on the Pequot War visit our site at www.pequotwar.org.

Visit the Pequot Museum and Prepare to be Transformed.Pequot Museum Logo
We are transforming how indigenous culture and peoples are represented. For our website we purposefully juxtaposed black and white imagery against their contemporary counterpart in color. Quahogs are transformed into modern wampum jewlery (artist James Jones, Mashantucket Pequot.) Corn is transformed into sublime cuisine (our own Chef Sherry Pocknett, Mashpee Wampanoag.) The historic image of a warrior is transformed into a millennial wearing a pop culture t-shirt (artist Jared Yazzie, Navajo.) These artists represent a next generation Native narrative that gives greater understanding to the evolution of a new Native voice. We will be featuring rotating artists on our webpage to convey the beauty and diversity of their art, so come back to see who will be featured next. Please visit the museum to see how your views, ideas and opinions of Native culture and peoples will be transformed.

As always, it is a great time for the whole family.

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The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Welcomes You to SCHEMITZUN

SchemitzunSaturday & Sunday, August 27 & 28, 2016, on the Mashantucket Reservation, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation presents it’s annual Green Corn PowWow.  If you haven’t ever visited this or any pow wow, Schemitzun is a wonderful primer.

For a link to this year’s event, scroll down to the link “SCHEMITZUN.”

I had the wonderful experience of witnessing one of the first at the XLCenter in Hartford (then it was the Hartford Civic Center).  So many tribal representives taking part in native dance contests, the parade of nations, and venders with authentic tribal commodities from all over the country.  It was spectacular.download

For many reasons over the years, Schemitzun has changed it format, it’s size and it’s location.  Nancy C. Walker, the wife of a native Pequot tribal member, posted in her blog  “The History of Schemitzun” which we will post here.  It tells of the changes that parallel the growth and troubles of Foxwoods concerning economy and competition.  Here is her post:

Nancy C. Walker writes “Every year the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation hosts a pow wow called Schemitzun. It started years ago in the Hartford Civic Center because the tribe did not have a location to host the event. Later it was moved to “The Bowl” which was a open space next to Foxwoods Resort Casino. That only lasted one year due the rapid development of the casino.

Hartford Civic Center, before it was the XL Center.

Hartford Civic Center, before it was the XL Center.

The next location lasted a bit longer. They purchased a old farm in the neighboring town of North Stonington and the event grew to 4 days, 100 vendors and 1,000’s of dancers. The pow wow to celebrate the Green Corn Harvest had become one of the biggest events in Indian Country. It stayed at that location until 2008. In 2009 the tribe decided to make the event smaller in face of a declining economy.

Schemitzun was renamed the Green Corn Pow Wow and moved to a ballroom at Foxwoods for 2009 and moved to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in 2010. These were temporary locations while a new, permanent place on the reservation could be built. In 2011 the annual pow wow was moved to it’s new home at the Mashantucket Pequot Cultural Grounds and the name was changed back to Schemitzun.

Schemitzun

Schemitzun

Every year since there have been tweaks and improvements as the pow wow settles into it’s new home. While the event is done for this year – as it’s always held the weekend before Labor Day Weekend (or in pow wow terms between Mohegan and Shinnecock) – I do hope that you will join us for next year’s celebration of the Green Corn.”

I do hope you take time on labor day to visit the Green Corn Pow Wow.  Education about each other can bring people to understanding where there misunderstanding. From Sat: 10AM – 10PM & Sun: 10AM – 6 PM, on the Mashantucket Reservation, you will fins dance contests, entertainment, the woodland village, food, arts & crafts and more.  There is even Shuttle Service Available from Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Foxwoods Resort Casino, The Fox Tower and Two Trees Inn.DawnSpears

There website for tickets, directions, and more information is below:

SCHEMITZUN

I hope to see you there!

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Taunton Vs. Mashpee Wampanoag Casino – More “Pride or Prejudice?”

330px-PrideAndPrejudiceTitlePagePride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, & education among others.

Is there a parallel between Indian affairs in New England? Maybe only in the title.

This past week, property owners in Taunton who are attempting to block the Mashpee Wampanoag from building a $1 billion casino are pushing their legal challenge. The group asked a court to halt construction on the project, “First Light,” temporarily. If granted by a judge, an injunction would force the tribe to halt construction until the lawsuit is resolved, which could take years.

First Light

First Light Resort Casino

Why? When Native Tribes across the country are being allowed to thrive and raise the quality of life for their communities, why is New England seemingly so anti-Native American? Continue reading

The Mashpee “First Light” Resort Casino – The New Tribal Casino Leader in New England?

Tribal Council member Winnie Johnson Graham, foreground, holds a shovel along with others during an official groundbreaking, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Taunton, Mass., where the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe will build a resort casino that it hopes will become Massachusetts' first Las Vegas-style resort. The First Light casino, hotel and entertainment complex will be built on a 151-acre industrial park that's part of the Cape Cod-based tribe's recently designated federal reservation. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Tribal Council member Winnie Johnson Graham, foreground, holds a shovel along with others during an official groundbreaking, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Taunton, Mass., where the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe will build a resort casino that it hopes will become Massachusetts’ first Las Vegas-style resort. The First Light casino, hotel and entertainment complex will be built on a 151-acre industrial park that’s part of the Cape Cod-based tribe’s recently designated federal reservation. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Mashpee

Today’s post is a three part look at First Light in Taunton.

1) The Mashpee’s Break Ground on new Resort Casino Project;

2) What does it all mean for Massachusetts revenue and the Region C gaming license? and

3) a brief comparison with the two CT tribal casinos.

Tiverton map

Tiverton is on the NE Border of Rhode Island.

Taunton looks like it will have a new business partner – at least at this present time! But more is to come before it is certain.  It seems the Mashpee Wanpanoags are willing to leave that to the present judicial system, or luck.  They are determined to take it into their own hands.

The ground has been broken, despite some that say the lawsuit, filed by Taunton property owners who are challenging the federal government’s designation of the casino site as an Indian reservation, could drag on for a decade or more.

But, what happens if they start building while all the red tape created by federal bureaucracy takes the time expected?

First Light LogoWhat this “hurry-up and build” strategy does is shake up the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, making those in charge of assigning a Region C gaming license having to make one of two decisions, and quickly: Continue reading

Connecticut Casino Pushes Forward Without Additional Study

Foxwoods/ Mohegan Sun Joint Casino, East Hartford, CT

Artist Rendering of renovated Cinemas building for New Mohegan Sun/Foxwoods Casino – one of four possible sites

Brian Hallenbeck, the New London Day staff writer, reported this week a legislative committee rejected a bill Thursday calling for a study of the costs and benefits of commercial gaming in the state.  This was one of 3 scenarios that could have emerged.  The other two, included:

  1. Approving a study – which would delay the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ pursuit of a Hartford-area casino to compete against MGM Springfield, a $950 million resort casino being built in Massachusetts. It also might have confirmed the resent study by MGM that south western Connecticut was ripe for a better payoff to the state gambling revenue than the Hartford area.
  2. Finding the proposal for a third casino not in the best interest of Connecticut towns, residents, and would not complete the primary intention – to compete against MGM Springfield so Connecticut would not lose more than 9,000 jobs and over $100 million in state tax revenue.
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the historic First Spiritualist Church

While the tribes have said they hope to open a Hartford-area casino before MGM Springfield’s anticipated September 2018 debut, they have yet to propose legislation that would enable them to open a commercial casino on non-tribal land. Time seems to be moving quickly, MGM Springfield continues to proceed. The demolition of the former Zanetti School and various other construction activity is moving forward. This week, preparation work for the planned relocation of the historic First Spiritualist Church from its Bliss Street location to a nearby Union Street site is scheduled to begin.  The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Was the study paid for and reported by MGM a tactic to distract the Connecticut legislation?  To postpone MMCT’s forward progress? Or was it a serious alternative to the competition at the CT/MA border?

The border of CT & MA.Springfield is only minutes from the CT side.

The border of CT & MA.Springfield is only minutes from the CT side.

We have seen approved casino proposals stopped in their tracks already – MGM postponed due to city infrastructure, Wynn due to additional law suits, and possibly CT’s third casino with the MGM/Schaticoke fair trade law suit still pending.  This could be a small victory for the Mohegans & Pequots joint effort.  The real heat will be generated by the law suits pending.  MGM Springfield continues to move forward amidst the turmoil.

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Foxwoods or WinStar World – Largest Casino in America? Does Size Matter…..For Your Visit?

What is the BEST casino in America? What is the BEST casino in the World?

Largest Casino in the world - the Venetian, Macau in China

Largest Casino in the world – the Venetian, Macau in China

Well, “BEST” implies many subjective judgments, considering the overall offerings in the entire casino to differences in personal taste & preference.  Let’s not forget one of the most personal aspect – “where do you feel is your the luckiest casino?”

When expansion of casino gambling is complete, New England gamblers may have a plethora of large casinos to choose from – future casinos such as MGM Springfield, Wynn Everett, Mashpee’s First Light, and Brockton’s Region C casino, competing with Twin River, Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun.

The expansive Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Proposal in Taunton, Mass. Poses a Threat to the Boston Area

The expansive Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Proposal in Taunton, Mass. Poses a Threat to the Boston Area

While the decision of “BEST” has many gray areas in determining quality, we can measure other aspects of casinos – quantity as in casino square footage, number of hotel rooms,  number of table games, etc.

Which brings me to the two questions I’m asking today:

  1. What is the largest casino in America?
  2. Which of the largest casinos offer more overall?

Continue reading

Tribal Casino News in Massachusetts Points to Saturation Problems

Could Circumstances Eventually Bring No Casino to Region C?

Could Circumstances Eventually Bring No Casino to Region C?

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:

Wampanoag Community Center and Future Bingo Hall?

Wampanoag Community Center and Future Bingo Hall?

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.

Seal_of_the_United_States_Bureau_of_Indian_Affairs.svgThe 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.

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Mashpee Wampanoags Casino – “Game Changer” for Mass Casino Expansion?

Taunton Proposal

Taunton Casino Rendering for Mashpee Wampanoags Proposal

The Boston Globe reported last week that the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe appear to be making significant progress in its quest to secure land in Massachusetts to build a Las Vegas-style casino.

We’ve been hearing about this on-again, off-again casino for three years, but it now seems closer than ever to fruition.

Proposed Brockton Casino

Proposed Brockton Casino

The federal government recently informed the tribe in a letter that a decision in their case is imminent. The tribe needs the federal government to help them convert 150 acres of land into a reservation, which would allow for the casino to be built under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  The tribe wants to build a $500 million casino in Taunton, which is in the Southeastern part of the state. But, Brockton also is competing for the SE license in Region C.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs seems confused on what exactly it’s communications to the Mashpee Wampanoags means.

  1. the tribe’s request is under review
  2. they are inviting comments for a 30-day period on the tribe’s request to issue a reservation proclamation
  3. no date has been identified in which a reservation proclamation will be issued by the Department of the Interior
  4. issuance of a reservation proclamation is a separate and distinct action from acquiring land in trust…”

MashpeesIt seems the important part is that a reservation proclamation would allow the tribe to construct a casino in Taunton if the land has been turned into a trust.

“This letter to the City of Taunton is an indication that the Interior Department is one step closer to making a final decision on our full application,” tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a press release regarding the letter. But the letter refers to looking into the trust, not deciding on it.

Estele C. Borges, president of Taunton’s City Council, said that the council and the City of Taunton have already responded when more than 60 percent of city residents voted in favor of a casino to be constructed in Taunton.  So the BIA seems to have the last say.

What will this mean to Brockton?  It seems that two casinos in Region C, so close to Rhode Island Casinos and the new Plainridge slots joint may add to the saturation problem.  The Massachusetts Gaming Commission did refer to the fact that neither Brockton or the then alive New Bedford proposal might not see a casino.  It might depend solely on the BIA’s decision with the Mashpee Wampanoags casino in Taunton.

More to come.

That’s all for now.

Binbin