Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hoping for casino decision this year

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell and Vice Chairwoman Jessie Little Doe Baird at the opening of a new government center in March 2014. Photo from Facebook

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts hopes to receive a decision on its casino sometime this year, an attorney said.

The tribe plans to build the $500 million First Light Resort and Casino in the city of Taunton. The Bureau of Indian Affairs published the final environmental impact statement last September but a decision hasn't been made.

“We have good reason to believe significant portions of this document are under final review,” attorney Arlinda Locklear told The Taunton Daily Gazette. "I am pretty confident it will be this year."

An artist's rendering of proposed First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton, Massachusetts. Image from MWT

The tribe filed a land-into-trust application shortly after gaining federal recognition in May 2007. But before the BIA could make a decision, the tribe switched gaming sites.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court threw a wrench in the process with the Carcieri v. Salazar case. The 2009 ruling states that the BIA can place land in trust for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934.

The Wampanoags believe they meet the test. But the agency is apparently still trying to figure that out.

"There is an ongoing legal analysis,” Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn told the paper last week after a hearing last week on the land-into-trust process.

“I don’t think it is any secret that one of the things we have been working on is whether the Carcieri decision directly affects the Mashpee’s ability to put land into trust,” he added.

Get the Story:
Plan for tribal casino in Taunton a 'conundrum' for Gaming Commission (The Taunton Daily Gazette 5/21)

DOI Solicitor Opinion:
M-37029: The Meaning of "Under Federal Jurisdiction" for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (March 12, 2014)

Federal Register Notice:
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)

Related Stories
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe questions non-Indian slot facility (05/15)
Editorial: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino odds look slimmer (04/15)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident on gaming plan (04/06)
BIA still promising action on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (4/3)
Still no word from BIA on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino bid (03/17)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still waiting for BIA answer on casino (02/02)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe said to seek $374M loan for casino (01/07)

Join the Conversation