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Southeastern Mass: Casino impacts explored

On the invitation of State Representative Keiko Orrall, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Steven Crosby came to Lakeville Thursday afternoon to hear the concerns of towns surrounding the proposed Mashpee Wampanoag casino in Taunton.

At question is the proposed Wampanoag casino in Taunton and whether it’s a good deal for Southeastern Massachusetts. Gaming Commissioner Stephen Crosby said it’s the best the tribe and the state could negotiate, giving 21.5 half percent of gross revenues to the state and local municipalities. That means approximately $7 million to those towns the Gaming Commission define as “Surrounding Communities”.

Seven surrounding communities expressed concerns about the impacts on traffic, road infrastructure, English as a second language for children on non-English speaking casino employees, the environment and the regional water supply. Representative Orrall, a Republican, said the Governor’s casino deal did little to mitigate the negative effects of the casino.

Crosby said the gaming law and the compact signed by the tribe and the Governor gives them “a lot of muscle.” The compact requires the tribe to go through an environmental review that includes impact on traffic, public safety, schools and all the rest of the town’s concerns. Before the federal government places the tribe’s Taunton land “in trust,” making the land a sovereign nation, the tribe must guarantee and pay for mitigations to those impacts.

The Governor’s office released details of the compact after the Lakeville forum. The legislature has until the end of the month to approve or reject it. If approved, the proposal goes on to the federal government for review.

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About Charles Mathewson

Charles Mathewson worked in print journalism for more than two decades as a reporter and editor, and has won several regional and national awards. He resides in Plymouth where he writes fiction and paints, when not producing award-winning news as a reporter for WATD.