Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe can't stop non-Indian gaming facility

Slot machines are being installed at the Plainridge Park Casino, a non-Indian slot machine facility in Plainville, Massachusetts.Photo from Facebook

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts won't be able to stop a non-Indian gaming facility from opening next week.

The tribe asked Attorney General Maura Healey to determine whether the Plainridge Park Casino complies with state law and its Class III gaming compact. But her office declined to take action on the complaint, the Associated Press reported.

H.3702, the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act, authorized three gaming facilities and a slot machine parlor. The law states that the slot facility can offer up to 1,250 devices.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is allowing Plainridge to offer 1,500 machines. The facility cleared all regulatory hurdles and will open next Wednesday.

An artist's rendering of proposed First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton, Massachusetts. Image from Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Meanwhile, the tribe's plan for the First Light Resort and Casino in the city of Taunton, less than 20 miles from Taunton, languishes. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has yet to make a decision on the land-into-trust application for the site even though the final environmental impact statement was issued last September.

"I think it will be this year," Arlinda Locklear, an attorney for the tribe, told The Taunton Daily Gazette.

The BIA originally promised a decision in the spring of 2013. That deadline came and went amid concerns about the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

The ruling restricts the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe didn't gain federal status until May 2007.

The justices, however, did not define the meaning of "under federal jurisdiction." So the Interior Department has devised a two-part test to determine whether tribes meet the test.

Get the Story:
AG: No action on Mashpee Wampanoag allegation about casino (AP 6/19)
Plainridge Park Casino clears final hurdle for Wednesday opening (The Attleboro Sun Chronicle 6/19)
Taunton casino opponents celebrate while proponents continue their work (The Taunton Daily Gazette 6/17)

An Opinion:
Shirley Leung: Opening of Plainville slots parlor marks start of casino era (The Boston Globe 6/19)

DOI Solicitor Opinion:
M-37029: The Meaning of "Under Federal Jurisdiction" for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (March 12, 2014)

Federal Register Notice:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Fee-to-Trust Transfer of Property and Subsequent Development of a Resort/Hotel and Ancillary Facilities in the City of Taunton, MA and Tribal Government Facilities in the Town of Mashpee, MA by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (September 5, 2014)

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