Patrick says new casino deal with Mass. tribe nearAP , Associated Press
Mar. 14, 2013 6:50 PM ET
BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday that his administration has reached an agreement-in-principle on a revised casino compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and that he expects to sign the agreement within days.
The tribe, which has proposed a $500 million resort casino in the city of Taunton, signed a compact with the state last year but it was later rejected by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The earlier agreement would have required the tribe to return 21.5 percent of its gambling revenues to the state, which federal officials said was too high a figure.
Patrick did not disclose details of the renegotiated compact during an appearance Thursday on WGBH-FM, but said it had already been "vetted" by federal officials and that he hoped to brief legislative leaders on it shortly.
The agreement would come at a critical time for the tribe in its casino bid.
The state's 2011 expanded gambling that allowed for three regional resort casinos gave initial preference to a federally-recognized Indian tribe in southeastern Massachusetts, but also allowed the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to open up the region to commercial bidders if it determined that a tribe's chances for success were unlikely.
The commission has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday in Fall River as it decides whether to begin accepting applications from commercial developers.
Patrick said Thursday that if the new compact was signed and approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the tribe could begin construction of a casino before the end of the year. But the Mashpee face other legal and regulatory obstacles, including a requirement that it win federal land-in-trust approval for the 146-acre site in Taunton.
Cedric Cromwell, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribal council, said Thursday that he expected to bring the new compact before the council for approval. He called it "another significant step" for the tribe in its casino bid.