Yesterday marked the groundbreaking ceremony of the Project First Light Resort and Casino, a project of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts. This will be the first resort casino of the state and with the groundbreaking, the tribe announced the venue is scheduled to open partially in 2017.

The project has been estimated at $1 billion and will include the First Light Casino, a hotel as well as entertainment complex. Construction will take place on an industrial park area that the tribe owns in Taunton that is part of a federal reservation that consists of over 300 acres. This tract of land was recently designated to the tribe, who have traced their heritage back to Native Americans from 400 years ago who came face to face with Pilgrims, and to the land, thousands of more years.

Cedric Cromwell, the Tribal Chairman, has reported that the project will provide over 2,600 permanent employment positions as well as 1,000 jobs in construction. Thomas Hoye Jr, the Mayor of Taunton, has stated that the project will provide a minimum of $8 million in revenue each year to the city as well as millions to be used in ‘mitigation’ improvements for roadways and intersections of the city. Money will also be used to hire firefighters and police officials.

However, the project is currently facing a lawsuit from some residents of Taunton who are challenging the decision that the tribe was granted reservation land. The lawsuit against the tribe is being financed at least in part, by Neil Bluhm, a Chicago casino builder who proposed a resort in nearby Brockton with a $677 million price tag. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is to decide if Bluhm will be given a license later on this month.

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