Gov. Deval Patrick inked an official deal with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe for a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts late last week, marking the most significant development so far in the highly competitive Bay State casino sweepstakes, according to the Boston Herald.
The Wampanoag tribe wants to build a casino in Taunton, where voters approved a non-binding ballot referendum supporting the concept at the polls last month.
To read the full story in the Herald, click here.
“This is a good deal for everyone,” said Patrick in a press release last week. “This Compact balances the interests of the Commonwealth with the inherent rights of the people of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. [This Compact] will allow the Mashpee Wampanoag to open a unique facility that is governed and regulated by the Tribe itself, in partnership with the state. I thank the Tribe for their good faith negotiations to reach an agreement that is in their best interests as well as those of the Commonwealth.”
The Commonwealth and the Mashpee Wampanoag negotiated the Compact over the course of several months. As a tribal government, the Mashpee Wampanoag is not subject to the recently passed Expanded Gaming Act. In exchange for several concessions from the state, the Compact establishes guidelines for a potential tribal casino that are consistent with the policies and principles outlined in the Expanded Gaming Act:
- A newly formed Tribal Gaming Commission (TGC) will be the primary regulator of the Facility’s gaming operations, subject to oversight and concurrent regulation by Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) and National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).
- The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) authorizes a tribe to conduct any gaming that is legally authorized in the state. Therefore, the Compact authorizes the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to operate casino-style ("Class III") games allowed elsewhere in the Commonwealth, excluding live horse racing.
- The Compact agrees that the tribal facility will be non-smoking.
- The Compact includes a revenue allocation equal to 21.5 percent of gross gaming revenue from the Tribe to the Commonwealth. This allocation will address the impact costs of a new facility and is agreed to in consideration of concessions made by the Commonwealth.
- The Commonwealth will distribute any revenue allocation in a manner consistent with the Expanded Gaming Act, including dedicating funds for mitigation in communities affected by a casino.
- The compact is for a 15-year term, with an automatic renewal for an additional 15-year term unless either party provides notice for modification or nonrenewal.
The Compact also advances the Commonwealth’s stated priority of regional economic development while protecting public safety and public health, ensuring strong regulatory oversight, supporting host and surrounding communities and providing quality employee benefits. The compact includes the following additional provisions:
• The Commonwealth is granted jurisdiction and may prosecute under its laws and in its courts any violations of its gaming laws, other crimes against the facility's gaming operations or any other crimes occurring at the facility, just as it can for commercial facilities.
- The Tribe agrees to contribute to the Public Health Trust Fund.
- The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will have the right to inspect the facility, all gaming activity and all related records.
- The Tribe has agreed to an inter-governmental agreement with the host community to mitigate the impact of the facility’s construction.
- Pursuant to federal law, the Tribe must conduct an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) under NEPA, which includes a comprehensive analysis of the environmental, infrastructure, educational, cultural, social and economic impacts of the facility on the region.
- The Tribe must consent to jurisdiction of the agencies responsible for enforcing the state worker's compensation and unemployment insurance laws.
- The Tribe will provide employees with health care benefits that meet or exceed standards set forth in state health care laws.
In November 2011, Governor Patrick signed the Expanded Gaming Act, which authorized the creation of three resort-style gaming facilities in Massachusetts, along with one slot facility. The Act allows for the gaming facilities to be built in three regions, Western Massachusetts, Greater Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts.
The Act directed the Governor to negotiate a compact with any eligible, federally-recognized sovereign tribe for a facility in the Southeastern region. The compact must be negotiated and ratified by the Legislature by July 31, 2012. If those requirements are not met, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is required to put out to bid a commercial license for the facility.
Foxborough was long considered a possible destination for a Massachusetts' casino until the results of the town's May 7th election. Voters elected two selectmen candidates that openly expressed their opposition of building a casino in Foxborough during their campaign. The election of selectmen Ginny Coppola and Lorraine Brue ultimately off Route 1 across from Gillette Stadium in May, thus ending any casino speculation in town.
But now, with this new deal in place, a casino may only be half an hour away from Foxborough and we want to know what you think about that!
Today's question: How do you think a casino in Taunton will affect Foxborough? Tell us in comments!