Update: The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is meeting with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on March 15. In light of that development the MGC has decided to delay a decision on the Brockton casino proposal until the end of April

While the focus of a public hearing on Tuesday hosted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was a proposed casino in Brockton, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe warned legal action would be taken to protect its interest should the commission award a commercial license.

The state’s Expanded Gaming Act as well as the tribal-state compact was detailed by Howard Cooper, and attorney for the tribe, in a firmly worded eight-page letter. The language of the letter indicates that based on the law the commission “lacks authority” and is in danger of breach of the compact entered into on March 19, 2013, as reported by the Cape Cod Times. In his letter Cooper also wrote that having two casinos in the region would create “a far weaker gaming market.”

The proposal by Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, owned by Niel Bluhm, for a $677 million casino on the Brockton Fairgrounds site is expected to create 2,000 casino jobs as well as 1,800 permanent jobs and become the largest development in Southeastern Massachusetts, said Bluhm in front of a packed room during a presentation on Tuesday at Massasoit Community College. Some audience members wore yellow shirts printed with “benefits 4 Brockton & beyond,” that were distributed before the hearing. Those opposed to the development wore red T-shirts that urged “no casino in region C,” which is the area that covers Southeastern Massachusetts.

During his presentation Bluhm mentioned the Mashpee Wampanoag’s Taunton facility, saying that the location in Brockton was chosen to be nearer to Boston and so that both could coexist, if necessary. He said that while the state would lose revenue, two casinos would mean jobs for more people.

If a casino is licensed in Southeastern Massachusetts the Mashpee Wampanoag would pay nothing to the state, under the terms of a tribal-state compact. The tribe agreed to pay state coffers 17 percent of its gross gambling revenues if the Brockton facility doesn’t happen. A decision as to whether or not to license a commercial casino in Region C is expected to be made by the Gaming Commission on March 31.

Meanwhile, in protest of Mayor Joe Curtatone’s continued appeals and lawsuits against Wynn Casino, three dozen people held up union-printed signs outside of Somerville City Hall, the same day.

One Response

  1. Steven Norton

    The actual wording of the 2011 Casino Legislation, allows 3 “commercial” casinos and a slot parlor, with commercial being the operative word. Because the Tribal casino would not be a commercial MA casino, under the oversight of the Gaming Commission. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had land placed in Trust, by the Federal Government, which allows them to operate the same type of gaming as the state permits elsewhere. And the compact between the Tribe and Massachusetts, includes MA receiving a 17% share of the Tribes casino win, which will go away if a commercial casino is approved in the Southeast region. So the MA Legislation contemplated the possibility of two casinos in the Southeast, and gives the Tribe a big financial bonus, if they must compete with a commercial casino. Rush Street has invested $ millions in the process of designing a resort casino project, obtaining the approval of a suitably located community, competing with other bidders, and all in an attempt to obtain the single license in Southeast MA. If Rush Street feels that they can be successful, in spite of the 25% tax differential they have to overcome with the Mashpee Wampanoag casino, then hopefully the Commission will give them the chance.

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