Taunton Voters Favor Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Proposal

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By: Geoff Spillane
Published: 06/09/12

Taunton residents today overwhelmingly voted to put out the welcome mat for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to build a $500 million destination resort in the city.

With all the precincts now tallied for the non-binding referendum, the pro-casino vote came out ahead 7,693 to 4,571.

Taunton is now the first municipality in Massachusetts to approve casino gambling since the state Legislature approved a gaming bill late last year.

The neighboring towns of Lakeville and Freetown recently voted down casino proposals by the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, while Foxborough voters expressed their anti-casino stance in a board of selectmen election in May.

Of the city's 33,000 registered voters, 36 percent turned out at the polls on a sunny, summer-like Saturday.

Taunton Mayor Thomas J.Hoye, Jr. announced the results to at Taunton City Hall this evening. The polls closed at 8 PM.

With today's vote, a signed revenue-sharing and regulatory compact with Governor Deval L. Patrick, which must be approved by the state Legislature, is the next major mandate to meet before a July 31 deadline to maintain preferred status for obtaining a casino license in southeastern Massachusetts. The tribe will also need to prove it is making progress toward obtaining federal approval to have the land taken into trust by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs.

However, lawsuits against the city and the state by the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, the Town of Middleborough, and anti-casino groups could pose an obstacle for the Mashpee in the weeks to come.

1 Responses to "Taunton Voters Favor Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Proposal"

  1. Sure, spending $300,000 to $500,000 on a non-binding election in a small city like Taunton will buy you a fair amount of votes. Given the opposition had a budget of less than $2,000 and the City leaders were marching in tune with their new masters from Malaysia it's no surprise this passed. The surprises will come later when the people of Taunton get hit with the bills for the local costs of this mess that won't be covered by the Tribe and their overseas backers. For example, the annual cost estimate for local schools associated with the new casino burden will be $800,000 - but the Tribe's mitigation payments for schools is only $300,000. That's a $500,000 annual deficit which must be covered by Taunton taxpayers - which will grow annually while the Tribe's payments will not. And as for the promised jobs - the main reason voters supported this measure? Research shows that every slot machine placed in a local community takes $100,000 in cash (slot earnings) out of that community annually - that's money which would have otherwise been spent on goods, services and other non-casino economic activity. Each year, each slot machine (3,000+ planned for Taunton) will cost one local job associated with this cash transfer. That's 3,000 jobs PER year - while the casino pledged a total of 2,500 jobs. Year one - net 500 jobs lost, year two - another net 3,000 jobs lost (3,500 combined), year three - another net 3,000 jobs lost (6,500 combined), etc... Rushing this proposal through, doing poor diligence on both the details and the partners involved, will be proven to be a very poor deal in deed for Taunton and the Commonwealth.

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