Casino Stalker | Compacts | Legislation
Massachusetts gaming bill forces tribes to follow state laws

A bill filed in the Massachusetts Senate [Summary | Full Text] contains a number of provisions that appear to be unfavorable to the two federally recognized tribes in the state.

First, the bill does not set aside a casino for a tribe. The House version of the bill doesn't provide a tribal preference either.

Second, the Senate bill opens the bidding process for a casino to a tribe or a group that partners with a tribe. However, the tribe must agree to be subject to all state civil and criminal laws and must "waive its rights" under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Third, the bill authorizes the governor to enter into a "permanent" compact with a tribe. But the deal must be negotiated by June 30, 2011.

Through the compact, the bill requires the tribe to comply with "all" of the same laws that are imposed on other gaming facilities in the state. However, instead of paying a tax -- which would be illegal under IGRA -- the tribe must make a "payment in lieu of taxes of equal or greater value" than what would be imposed on a non-Indian casino.

Finally, the bill states that the governor "shall" support a tribe's land-into-trust application if a tribe agrees to all of the conditions of state law. This implies that a tribe might not be able to pursue a casino on its own by following IGRA.

Massachusetts is home to the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Both tribes are interested in gaming.

State officials claim the Aquinnah cannot follow IGRA because the tribe signed a land claims settlement that subjects it to state civil and criminal laws. The tribe disputes this claim but has said it might be open to bidding on a casino.

The Mashpee started the land-into-trust process for a casino but recently changed locations and partners. The tribe's application faces questions under the the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, which restricts the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934.

The Mashpee didn't gain recognition until 2007. The Aquinnah weren't recognized until 1987.

The Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut is interested in a casino and plans to bid for one. The Senate bill sets aside one casino in the western part of the state, where the tribe has an option to buy land.

Get the Story:
Mashpee tribe loses ground in latest casino bill (The Cape Cod Times 6/19)
Flanagan: New Senate bill won't hurt city's casino plans (The Fall River Herald News 6/19)
Senate wants 3 casino sites (The Worcester Telegram 6/19)
Senate version of gambling bill gives Palmer favorable odds in casino action, advocates say (The Waterbury Republican 6/19)
Is Bay State too late for casino jackpot? (The Cape Cod Times 6/21)

Some Opinions:
Editorial: In battle over gambling, Senate offers better course than House (The Boston Globe 6/21)
Scott Harshbarger and Kathleen Conley Norbut: Massachusetts is better off without casinos (The Taunton Gazette 6/18)

Related Stories:
Massachusetts governor not bothered by rival tribal casino (6/10)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe asserts reservation casino rights (6/9)
Wampanoag tribes make case for casinos in Massachusetts (6/8)
Opinion: Taking a huge gamble on gaming in Massachusetts (6/7)
Opinion: Learning lessons from tribal casinos in Connecticut (6/7)
Massachusetts gaming bill authorizes just one tribal casino (6/4)
Gaming bill in Massachusetts reserves one casino for tribes (6/3)
Column: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino a risky gamble (6/3)
Massachusetts governor addresses Wampanoag casino bid (6/2)
Editorial: Playing the odds on Mashpee Wampanoag casino (5/28)
City approves sale of land for Mashpee Wampanoag casino (5/27)
Tribal rights an issue as Massachusetts weighs gaming bill (5/26)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe presents casino project to city (5/25)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe to present another casino plan (5/24)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe commissions poll on new casino (5/21)
Town weighs options on Mashpee Wampanoag gaming deal (5/20)
City council members against Mashpee Wampanoag casino (5/19)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe switches location for casino bid (5/18)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe announces new casino location (5/17)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe negotiates for a new casino site (5/14)
Town presses Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe about casino bid (5/12)