Mashpee Tribe, Gov. Patrick Reach Gaming Agreement
By: Geoff Spillane
Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick announced this afternoon that the state has reached a tentative agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on a compact agreement outlining terms under which the tribe can operate a gaming facility in Taunton.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council authorized the compact earlier this evening, allowing the governor to send the agreement to the state Legislature as soon as it is complete.
Under terms of the proposed agreement, the tribe would pay the state 21.5 percent of gross gaming revenue, and the state would have criminal jurisdiction over the casino property. According to state Representative David Vieira (R - Falmouth), who was briefed on the deal this afternoon, the revenue sharing includes both slots and table games.
In addition, a newly formed Tribal Gaming Commission, subject to the oversight of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, will be the primary regulator of the facility’s gaming operations.
A particularly critical and far-reaching component of the compact calls for the state to actively support and advocate for the tribe’s federal land-into-trust applications for property in Taunton and Mashpee. Before a casino can be opened at the Taunton site, the tribe must have the land placed in trust with the US Department of Interior.
“This is a good deal for everyone,” Governor Patrick said in a prepared statement.
In a press release, Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell called the compact a monumental step toward the tribe’s economic development goals and protecting the tribe’s sovereignty.
“This is a great day for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Taunton, and all of Southeastern Massachusetts,” he said. “This is the first step in an economic development plan that will bring long-term prosperity to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe while also bringing much needed job opportunities and revenue to the Commonwealth.”
It is unclear when a vote on the compact would occur on Beacon Hill, but under deadlines mandate by last year’s expanded gaming bill legislation, the process must be completed by July 31.
Read Friday’s Enterprise for full coverage of this historic event.