Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, State Gaming Commission To Meet As Third Casino License Is Considered

An artist’s rendering of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s proposed $500 million casino in Taunton. The tribe hopes to secure the state’s sole casino license for the Southeast Region. (Photo courtesy of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe)

An artist’s rendering of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s proposed $500 million casino in Taunton. The tribe hopes to secure the state’s sole casino license for the Southeast Region. (Photo courtesy of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe)

MASHPEE – The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will make a presentation before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission this month as the board considers whether or not to issue a third casino license in the Commonwealth

The tribe is moving forward with plans to build a casino resort in Taunton and will update the state on that project during the March 15 meeting at tribal headquarters in Mashpee. The presentation will be public. Plans have not yet been finalized and the meeting’s time has not been determined yet.

A land into trust application for the tribe was approved last year by the federal government, transferring approximately 170 acres of land in Mashpee and 151 acres of land in Taunton into federal trust for the benefit of the tribe. Federally recognized Native American tribes are allowed to build casinos on native land, or land that has been taken into federal trust.

A 2011 Massachusetts law allows for up to three casino licenses to be awarded in the state, along with one slots license. The state has awarded licenses to projects in Springfield and Everett, and the slots license went to the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville.

The state gaming commission is considering a final proposal for Region C, Southeastern Massachusetts, in Brockton, but is not required to issue a license for the region.

The group hoping to build the Brockton casino has financed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s land into trust decision. The suit questions whether the Secretary of the Interior has authority under the Indian Reorganization Act to place land into trust for the tribe. It also challenges the tribe’s historical ties to the area in Taunton where they plan on building a casino resort, and whether there was sufficient environmental review.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston by a group of Taunton residents who have been critical of the Wampanoag’s casino plan.

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