The Mashpee Wampanoag, the Massachusetts-based tribe that was given a preference for the southeastern gaming license in the state’s recently enacted casino legislation if it could bring a resort site into trust and negotiate a gaming compact by a certain date, has reached a deal with the city of Taunton for a parcel on land it will turn into a $500 million gaming resort.
The residents of Taunton must pass a binding referendum on the project and the tribe and state need to iron out a Legislature-approved compact by July 31 before the casino license can be awarded. Failure to meet this deadline could clear the way for commercial entities to compete for the license and the right to build the only casino that will be located in the Southeastern Massachusetts.
The stakes are high for the Mashpee Wampanoag, which has failed in past attempts to develop a casino in the Massachusetts communities of Middleborough and Fall River. Another Massachusetts tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah (Gay Head), is trying to revive the Fall River casino project and will compete with the Mashpee Wampanoag as the tribe allowed to build and operate the southeastern casino. KG Urban Enterprises, which is attempting to develop a casino in the southeastern community of New Bedford, has filed a legal challenge against the preference given to tribes in the state’s casino enabling legislation.