After much discussion on April 18, 2013, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to open Region C (Southeastern, Massachusetts) to commercial casino developers. Previously, the Commission had delayed the application process for Region C pending the approval of a new compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. However, the tribe’s ability to obtain land in trust has been uncertain. The Commission discussed at length their attempt to balance the preferences given to the tribe by the gaming legislation and their obligation to ensure that Southeastern Massachusetts did not fall behind economically by a delay in the process.
The Mashpee tribe is planning to build a casino resort in an industrial park in Taunton, but faces some legal obstacles. The Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar precludes the Secretary of the Interior from taking land into trust for tribes recognized after 1934. The Mashpee tribe received federal recognition in 2007.
The commission vote does not guarantee the panel will award a commercial license in the region. After the application period, sometime in late 2014, the commission will “make a determination on the applications taking into consideration everything going on in the region, including the status of the tribe,” said Stephen Crosby, chairman of the commission.
For information on gaming law and casinos in Massachusetts, please contact Considine & Furey, LLP at 617-723-7200.