Feb. 29, 2012
BOSTON — A Native American tribe has taken the first concrete step toward securing one of Massachusetts' three casino licenses.
The Mashpee Wampanoags had already considered and abandoned plans to build a casino in Middleborough and in Fall River. But now, tribe members say they believe they’ve found a home in East Taunton. They announced Wednesday that they have entered into an option to purchase a tract of land at the intersections of routes 24 and 140.
> > Read the tribe's announcement.
Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the project would be an economic boost to the tribe and the struggling area: “It provides someone a gateway, if you will, to southeastern Mass. for travel, tourism and that will help create thousands of jobs for people and a wide range of jobs, if you will, in management, accounting, service, working different game tables, technology.”
Cromwell said the destination casino would include hotels, restaurants, a cinema, spa and waterpark. The investor is Malaysia-based Arcana.
However, the casino is not a done deal. The tribe must now negotiate a compact with Gov. Deval Patrick to work out how much money the state would get from the casino and how it would be regulated. The Mashpees must also get approval from Taunton residents in a citywide referendum. Finally, the tribe must get the land into trust with the federal government, which observers said could be a long and difficult process.
The recent gambling law gives the tribe until July 31 to enter into a compact with the state. Otherwise, the casino license for southeastern Massachusetts would be open to competitive bidding — as are the licenses allotted to western and northeastern Massachusetts.
Sign-up for WGBH News updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.