Litigation | Openings & Closings

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino faces unknowns with Donald Trump in office

Artist's rendering of the First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton, Massachusetts. Image from Steelman Partners / Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

The presidential election is over but now come the big questions, like what will Indian gaming be like with Republican Donald Trump in office?

When he was in the casino business, Trump was openly antagonistic to tribes. He questioned the legitimacy of tribes, tried to strike down the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and associated tribal casinos with drugs and crime.

When those efforts didn't turn out so well, he tried to partner with tribes. But at least two rebuffed him and the one deal he landed ended earlier than anticipated.

"That was Trump as a business man," Jacqueline Pata, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, said during a post-election analysis conference call on Thursday afternoon. "We still have to see what Trump as a president will be about."

NCAI on YouTube: Post Election Analysis Webinar

Among those wondering will be the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, whose long-delayed casino project sits in limbo. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has been ordered to reconsider its approval of the land-into-trust application for the gaming site in the city of Taunton, Massachusetts.

It doesn't seem likely that the Obama administration will resolve the matter before January 20, 2017. So the decision would end up in the hands of the next leader of the BIA, who will be picked by Trump and team.

"The results of the election on Tuesday ... are ones that do not bode well for the tribe," Lloyd Macdonald, a member of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said at a public meeting on Thursday, The Boston Globe reported.

Macdonald went on to say that the dispute is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. And since Trump will likely be naming a new justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who was hostile to Indian interests, he believes the tribe's casino chances are dimming.

The tribe remains confident that the BIA will approve the application again, no matter who is in charge of the agency. And as the lawsuit continues, the Department of Justice will have to defend the BIA's position.

Read More on the Story:
Trump win may be bad news for Mashpee Wampanoag (The Boston Globe 11/10)

Court Decisions:
District Court of Massachusetts: Littlefield v. Department of the Interior (July 28, 2016)
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell (July 29, 2016)

Supreme Court Decision in Carcieri v. Salazar:
Syllabus | Opinion [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Stevens] | Concurrence/Dissent [Souter]

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

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