Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe buys gaming site for $34.5M

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

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has finalized a series of land deals for its long-awaited casino in Massachusetts.

The tribe paid $34.5 million for 115 acres in the city of Taunton, The Taunton Daily Gazette reported. That's where the First Light Resort and Casino will be located.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs placed a total of 151 acres in Taunton in trust for the project. The decision was historic because it took a new look at the Indian Reorganization Act in order for the tribe to overcome hurdles placed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

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

The February 2009 ruling stated that the BIA can acquire land only for those tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934, when the IRA became law. The BIA concluded that the Mashpees "resided within the boundaries of an Indian reservation on June 1, 1934," according to the 137-page decision issued in September.

The tribe now hopes to break ground on the $500 million project next spring.

Get the Story:
Nearly dozen Taunton businesses set to move to make way for casino (The Taunton Daily Gazette 11/9)
Mashpee Wampanoag casino land deal in East Taunton finalized (The Taunton Daily Gazette 11/7)
Brockton casino developers say Taunton casino won't happen (The Taunton Daily Gazette 11/6)

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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