Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe brings competition to New England gaming market

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

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts has yet to break ground on a long-awaited casino but a final decision on its land-into-trust application has shaken up the New England market.

Commercial casinos are required to pay a 25 percent tax on their revenues. In contrast, the Class III gaming compact calls for the tribe to share a maximum of 21 percent of its revenues with the state.

However, since Plainridge Park Casino, a commercial slot facility, opened in the tribe's region, the rate dropped to 19 percent. It will drop further to 17 percent once another casino opens elsewhere in the state.

And in the event a commercial casino opens in the tribe's region, the rate drops to 0 percent. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is considering that possibility but hasn't made a decision either way.

The New England Casino Race: Tribal and commercial gaming facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

"If the tribe does not have to make any payments, it could use the extra funds for promotional work and marketing, claiming a competitive advantage over other casinos in the area," said Peter Trombetta, an analyst with Moody's Investor Service.

Trombetta is also warning of impacts in neighboring Rhode Island. He believes revenues at Twin River Casino, a commercial facility, could fall as much as 20 percent once the $500 million First Light Resort and Casino opens.

The tribe expects to break ground sometime next year. The casino will be located in Taunton, in the southeastern part of Massachusetts.

Get the Story:
Moody's: Gaming uncertainty 'credit negative' for Brockton, Southeast (The New Bedford Times 10/9)

Relevant Documents:
Chairman Cedric Cromwell Announcement | Mashpee Wampanoag Trbe Press Release | Bureau of Indian Affairs Press Release | Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn Letter to Chairman Cedric Cromwell | Record of Decision | Attachment I - Legal Descriptions | Attachment II - Maps | Attachment III - Mitigation Monitoring and Enforcement Plan | Attachment IV - Response to Comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement

Federal Register Notices:
Land Acquisitions; Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (September 25, 2015)
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)
Land Acquisitions: Appeals of Land Acquisition Decisions (November 13, 2013)

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

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