Artist's rendering of the First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton, Massachusetts. Image: Steelman Partners / Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reportedly owes $347 million to casino firm

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is eager to restart work on its casino in Massachusetts and so is a key partner.

That's because Genting Malaysia is owed a substantial sum from the tribe. According to The Sun Daily, the amount has grown to $347.4 million as of June 30.

Tribal leaders have never publicly confirmed the size of their debt. But Genting has been disclosing the amount in its annual reports.

The tribe started work on the First Light Resort and Casino in April 2016. A lawsuit filed by opponents brought construction to a halt last summer.

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

At issue is the U.S. Supreme Court decision Carcieri v. Salazar. In the 2009 ruling, the justices held that the Bureau of Indian Affairs can place land in trust only for those tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934.

The Mashpees didn't gain formal recognition until 2007, long after that date. But the BIA, in a decision that broke new ground, said the tribe qualified for the land-into-trust process because its citizens were living on a "reservation" in 1934.

However, as part of the lawsuit, a federal judge said the BIA did not fully consider the impacts of Carcieri when it approved the land-into-trust application in September 2015. The Trump administration is now reconsidering the project and a decision could come before the end of the year.

Read More on the Story:
Genting Malaysia works with US tribe to recover RM1.49 billion notes (The Sun Daily 7/7)

Federal Court Decision:
District Court of Massachusetts: Littlefield v. Department of the Interior (July 28, 2016)

Supreme Court Decision in Carcieri v. Salazar:
Syllabus | Opinion [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Stevens] | Concurrence/Dissent [Souter]

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

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