Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe have signed a revised compact that would allow the tribe to operate a 0 million casino in Taunton if the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves the compact and allows the tribe to put the land into trust.
Patrick urged the legislature to quickly approve the compact. The Mashpee tribal council approved the compact shortly after it was signed, by a vote of 7-1.
Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell said, ‘‘We look forward to breaking ground in the next year on a development that will bring thousands of jobs and significant economic benefits to our tribe, the people of Taunton and the entire Southeastern Massachusetts region.”
The compact, the second bite at the apple by tribe and governor, would pay the state a 17 percent share of casino revenues. The first compact paid the state 21.5 percent, which the BIA said was too high for what the tribe got in
return. States are not allowed to directly tax an Indian tribe’s casino, although they are allowed to collect a share in return for granting a tribe some valuable consideration.
Under the terms of the compact, the state would collect no revenue at all if another commercial casino is allowed to operate in the southeastern part of the state. The tribe would pay 17 percent if it has the only casino in that part of the state. That percentage would drop to 15 percent if the state allows the one slots parlor authorized by the law to locate there. The tribe would pay 21 percent if its casino is the only one built in the Bay State. That is very unlikely, however.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission last week made it clear that unless the tribe can produce sound reasons to convince the members that it will be able to get federal approval and build a casino within a reasonable time frame, the region will be opened to commercial development.
An attorney for the tribe said the commission has no authority to do so.
“The commission cannot do what it is proposing to do,” said Howard Cooper.
Some who are rooting for the southeastern portion of the state to be opened to competition from commercial bidders argue that the tribe has so many obstacles to overcome that its casino won’t open for 10 years at least.