Boston (WWLP) - For the second time in as many years, the Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved a tribal casino deal, also known as a compact, in a 115 to 38 vote. The agreement gives the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe exclusive rights to build a casino in southeastern Massachusetts.
“Native Americans should have a chance to get at that business,” said Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange), before casting a vote in favor of the bill.
Last year the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the state’s first tribal casino deal. This second deal taxes the tribe’s casino revenue at a lesser rate of 17 percent, but that number goes down to zero if a commercial casino is approved in the southeast region.
“I think it’s a good deal based on all the circumstances because again, if the tribe gets federal recognition, they could build that casino anyhow and more than likely we’d be getting a lot less than this,” said Rep. Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield).
But the tribe still needs to secure land from the federal government. If they don’t get it soon, the state could issue a commercial casino license in southeastern Massachusetts. If the tribe secures federal land after a commercial license is issued, there could be four casinos in the Commonwealth.
“We think that’s too much saturation. We don’t want to have that happen. So there’s an incentive for the tribe to want to negotiate with the Commonwealth and there’s an incentive for the Commonwealth to want to negotiate with the tribe,” said Rep. Joe Wagner (D-Chicopee).
So far the state has spent $2.3 million dollars on tribal gaming negotiations. The casino compact now heads to the state Senate for a vote.