The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will meet with state gambling regulators to update them on their plans to build a casino south of Boston. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the tribe will meet on Tuesday afternoon in Mashpee at the tribe’s government and community center, according to the Associated Press.
In September, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved land into trust applications for the transfer of approximately 151 acres of land in East Taunton, about 35 miles from downtown Boston, and 170 acres in Mashpee for the Cape Cod-based tribe. The decision to do so has been challenged in federal court by local opponents and rival casino developer. Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, owned by Niel Bluhm, is proposing a $677 million casino on the Brockton Fairgrounds site.
In 2007, the tribe received federal recognition but its ancestry can be traced back to the Indians who encountered the Pilgrims.
Ground will be broken on the tribe’s $500 million Project First Light on April 5, according to the tribe. The city of Taunton, Massachusetts became the tribe’s targeted location for its casino resort in 2012, after a 2011 state casino law authorized a third and final resort casino license for Massachusetts. It’s been estimated the project will create 3,500 full and part-time jobs, as well as 287 construction jobs. In 2012, an agreement reached between the city and the tribe guarantees a minimum of $8 million a year from gambling revenues from the casino, expected to open in 2018. The resort will feature a 150,000 square foot casino, an events center, 600 hotel rooms, 150 table games, 3,000 slot machines and 40 poker tables.
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.
On March 1, during a public hearing that was hosted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe warned legal action would be taken to protect its interest should the commission award a commercial license.