Openings & Closings | Regulation

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe praises rejection of rival casino bid


Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell speaks at a press conference on September 19, 2015, celebrating approval of the tribe's land-into-trust application. Photo from Facebook

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission delivered good news to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on Thursday by rejecting plans for a rival casino.

The commission voted 4-1 to deny a license for the commercial project in Brockton. The facility would have been located less than 20 miles from the site of the tribe's First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton.

"I commend the Gaming Commission for making a difficult but wise and just decision," Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. "As their own consultants noted, licensing a casino in the same region lawmakers intended to be the exclusive domain of our tribe would have meant up to $40 million less revenue per year for the Commonwealth."

The commission's decision ensures the tribe's regional exclusivity remains intact under its Class III gaming compact. In the event a rival facility opened in southeastern Massachusetts, the tribe would not have been required to share any revenues with the state.

As it stands, the tribe is expected to share 17 percent of revenues with the state once the first phase of the $1 billion casino opens in the summer of 2017. The rate will drop to 15 percent once another commercial casino opens elsewhere in the state.

The tribe broke ground on its project earlier this month.

Chairman Cromwell's full statement follows:
"We have been living on this land for thousands of years and made it possible for non-Natives to establish themselves here. Historically, our people have been the recipients of a string of broken promises. Today is not one of those days. I commend the Gaming Commission for making a difficult but wise and just decision. As their own consultants noted, licensing a casino in the same region lawmakers intended to be the exclusive domain of our Tribe would have meant up to $40 million less revenue per year for the Commonwealth."

"We are upholding our end of the bargain and are on schedule to open our doors for business by next summer. Today, the Gaming Commission upheld the Commonwealth’s end of the bargain, paving the way for a fruitful economic partnership that will uplift my people and create economic opportunities for the city of Taunton, Southeastern Massachusetts and indeed the entire state."

Get the Story:
Massachusetts Gaming Commission rejects $677 million Brockton casino proposal (MassLive 4/28)
State rejects Brockton casino plan (State House News Service 4/28)
Gaming Commission Rejects Brockton Casino Plan (CapeCod.Com 4/28)
Gaming commission rejects Brockton casino (The Cape Cod Times 4/28)
Brockton casino shot down by Gaming Commission (The Boston Globe 4/28)
Gaming chairman calls Brockton casino plan unimpressive (The Cape Cod Times 4/27)
Gaming commission consultant: state could lose $28M to $41M annually with competing casinos (The Cape Cod Times 4/26)
Tax collections would drop if Brockton casino OK’d, consultant says (The Boston Globe 4/26)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Brockton casino license should come with conditions (The Boston Globe 4/28)

Land-Into-Trust Documents:
Chairman Cedric Cromwell Announcement | Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Press Release | Bureau of Indian Affairs Press Release | Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn Letter to Chairman Cedric Cromwell | Record of Decision

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

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