This artist's rendering of proposed First Light Resort and Casino has been scrapped now that the tribe has changed architects. Image: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
Business Deals | Casino Stalker

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe won't confirm size of casino debt

The top two leaders of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts won't confirm the amount of the tribe's gaming debt.

Chairman Cedric Cromwell and Vice Chairman Jessie (Little Doe) Baird told The Mashpee Enterprise that the tribe's financial information is confidential. They criticized two fellow leaders who told The Cape Cod Times that the tribe has borrowed more than $90 million at 16.5 percent interest from its gaming partner.

"They are hurting the tribe,” Cromwell told the Enterprise, referring to council members Carleton H. Hendricks Jr. and Laura E. Miranda.

Even though Cromwell and Baird declined to confirm the size of the tribe's debt, they alluded to figures being spent by commercial developers elsewhere in the state. That would put the number near or over $100 million, the Enterprise noted

Cromwell also said the tribe won't have to repay its debt to an affiliate of Genting Group, a Malaysian company, if the First Light Resort and Casino is never built. That statement appears to contradict claims by Hendricks and Miranda that Genting takes interest off the top of every payment made to the tribe.

Tribal leaders in fact agreed to borrow another $9 million from Genting at a meeting on Wednesday, the Times reported. Genting took $2 million off the top to pay the interest, the paper said, meaning the tribe is indeed repaying the debt regardless of the casino's success.

Hendricks and Miranda voted against borrowing more money, the paper reported. They could face sanctions or be removed from the council for speaking in public and to the media about the tribe's debt.

Get the Story:
Tribal Leaders Respond To Accusations Of Financial Mismanagement (The Mashpee Enterprise 10/10)
Sources: Tribe critics may be punished (The Cape Cod Times 10/10)
Anti-casino crowd blasts Taunton proposal (The Taunton Daily Gazette 10/10)
SRPEDD director: Casino uncertainty isn't preventing road improvements in Taunton (The Taunton Daily Gazette 10/10)

Federal Register Notices:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Fee-to-Trust Transfer of Property and Subsequent Development of a Resort/Hotel and Ancillary Facilities in the City of Taunton, MA and Tribal Government Facilities in the Town of Mashpee, MA by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (September 5, 2014)
Indian Gaming (February 3, 2014)

Related Stories:
Massachusetts voters asked to repeal gaming expansion law (10/9)
Leaders of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to discuss gaming debt (10/7)