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Column: Rush to judgement on Mashpee casino

"Oh, the blunder of it all.

Gambling proponents in Middleborough are pushing hard for a casino. They want a Massachusetts version of the wonder of it all at Foxwoods and the world at play at Mohegan Sun.

Their efforts feel rushed and wrong.

A town that twists itself into knots over a Dunkin' Donuts drive-through window is moving as fast as it can to endorse a megacasino. A Town Meeting is scheduled for Saturday. A vote that can forever change one town's character and future is taking place in the dead of summer, if not the dead of night.

Only one state official, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, seems to care. With as many as 10,000 of the town's 15,000 registered voters expected to attend the Saturday meeting, Galvin is demanding that town officials ensure the voting process will be orderly and accurate.

Last February, the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians were acknowledged as a federally recognized Indian tribe.The tribe took control of a 350-acre tract in Middleborough. In June, it partnered with two developers -- Len Wolman and Sol Kerzner -- who were forces behind Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The developers pledged $1 billion to help the Massachusetts tribe build a casino.

This week, just five days before the town vote, Middleborough officials signed onto a proposed deal that would pay the town $11 million a year. The fine print in the deal also specifies that payment cannot exceed 2 percent of the casino's net revenues in any year. The tribe anticipates $172 million in needed road improvements around the casino. It will seek an unspecified amount from the state and federal government.

For years, expanded gambling has been pitched in Massachusetts but blocked by opponents. Now, it seems on the verge of happening."

Get the Story:
Joan Vennochi: Selling fast, selling short on gambling (The Boston Globe 7/26)

Other Views:
Editorial: Don't roll the dice on casinos in Mass (The Waterbury Republican 7/26)
Editorial: Give Plainville same fair deal (The Plainville Sun 7/26)