In what could be viewed as a good indicator that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission anticipates the likelihood of a Mashpee Wampanoag casino, the rights of the commission in relation to the tribal facility were outlined by an attorney at a meeting in Springfield on Thursday.
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 and 170 acres in Mashpee for the Mashpee Wampanoag. A provision of the compact, now in effect, allows for the tribe to be assessed for costs associated with the oversight of the compact dating from March 11. The commission’s general council, Catherine Blue, said what the cost to the tribe would be is unknown. Application fees in the amount of $400,000 were paid by commercial companies. The money was used for background and financial checks by the commission, according to The Enterprise.
There are provisions in the 2013 compact between the Commonwealth and the tribe where oversight is required and a handbook summarizing those provisions was created by Blue for the five gaming commissioners. The tribe will have its own gaming commission and state oversight of its Project First Light. It will also be subject to scrutiny by the National Indian Gaming Commission.
The compact discussions come as Mass Gaming & Entertainment’s commercial application for a $677 million Brockton casino proposal is being reviewed by the state gaming commission. The company proposing a casino for the Southeastern Massachusetts, or Region C, has requested that the commission issue its facility a license regardless of the outcome of the tribe’s Taunton proposal. Brockton proponents have argued that the two facilities can coexist in the region.
Seventeen percent of the tribe’s gross gambling revenues would be paid to the state if it is Region C’s sole casino, according to the terms of the compact. The tribe would pay nothing if another commercial license were to be issued in the same region. According to Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, even if Region C has a commercial license issued; the compact would still be in effect, the tribe would still be responsible for paying the state commission’s oversight, and would still have to ante up $1.5 million annually to the Public Health Trust Fund. Money placed in the fund would provide treatment for problem gambling and research.
On Wednesday, Spokesman for the tribe, Sean Gonsalves, said that it is in the process of hiring for its own gaming commission’s staff positions.