091213 GTR_Mashpee logo_300The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Project First Light destination resort casino has reached another important milestone today, as the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies approved the revised gaming compact between the tribe and Governor Deval Patrick.

“We thank the committee members for supporting this revised compact, which brings us another step closer to breaking ground on Project First Light,” said Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell in a prepared statement. “We believe this agreement will keep our world-class destination resort casino on track, ultimately provide thousands of jobs for southeastern Massachusetts and the economic stimulus that will result.”

Under the revised compact, the Commonwealth will receive at least $2.1 billion in revenue over 20 years. The agreement will also provide over $300 million specifically to the southeastern Massachusetts region for transportation, education, tourism and funding for surrounding communities in the region. These funds will derive from a tax of 17 percent on gaming revenues from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s proposed casino, provided there is no competition from another casino in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The Project First Light destination resort casino is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs, more than 2,650 permanent jobs, and an $80 million annual payroll. The $500 million project will include a 150,000 square-foot casino, hotels with 300 rooms apiece, 3,000 slot machines, 150 tables and 40 poker tables, and an events center.

“I am pleased that the General Court has decided to move forward with the compact between the Commonwealth and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe,” said Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye. “Project First Light will provide much needed employment opportunities to the people of Taunton, as well as the residents of Southeastern Massachusetts. This compact is essentially a job creation bill, which will help our region's struggling families gain sustainability in this difficult economy. I am hopeful that the Legislature will approve the compact, as the Tribe continues their quest to have their Land in Trust application approved at the Federal Level.”

With a host agreement already in place, voter approval by the citizens of Taunton, and environmental reports already completed and filed with state and federal agencies, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is far along in the casino development process. The compact is now cleared to go before the full state legislature. Once approved, the compact will then move on to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for final approval.

Approval of the compact for a tribal casino in Taunton is consistent with the provisions of the state’s Expanded Gaming Act of 2011. A federally-recognized Indian tribe that has historically resided in Southeastern Massachusetts, the Mashpee Wampanoag is proposing to build on lands taken into trust by the federal Department of the Interior at the interchange of Routes 24 and 140. A land-in-trust application from the tribe is currently under review by the federal Department of Interior.

The tribe has already submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Report for Project First Light, keeping the tribe’s resort destination casino project on pace to start construction next year.