Boston: Governor reaches tentative casino deal with Mashpee Wompanoag tribe

Governor Deval Patrick late Wednesday announced that the state has reached a tentative agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on a Compact agreement which outlines the terms, under which the Tribe can operate a gaming facility in Massachusetts.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council and the state Legislature must vote to authorize the Compact, which would then be sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior for final approval.

“This is a good deal for everyone,” said Governor Patrick. “This Compact balances the interests of the Commonwealth with the inherent rights of the people of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. If this Compact is approved, it 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.

The Commonwealth agrees in the Compact to several concessions to the Tribe.

First, the Commonwealth agreed to enter into the Compact before the Tribe’s federal land-in-trust process was completed, and will advocate for Compact approval by the Legislature and the Secretary of the Interior. The Administration will also actively support the Tribe’s pending land-in-trust applications for Taunton and Mashpee.

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 Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has identified Taunton as a location for a gaming facility and reached an agreement with the City that was approved by voters in June.

Before a facility can open at the location, the Tribe must have land placed in-trust with the U.S. Department of Interior.

About Garo Hagopian

Garo Hagopian has been a member of the WATD family as a weekend news anchor since 2008, and has been a writer-producer-editor at WBZ in Boston since 1996.