The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe held its 96th annual powwow from July 1-3, 2017. Photo: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe urged to consider all options for stalled casino

With its land-into-trust application in doubt, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is being urged to look at all options for opening a casino in Massachusetts.

That includes securing a license for a commercial casino, The Boston Globe reports. The idea has been brought up before and it could be the quickest way for the tribe to resurrect its First Light Resort and Casino.

“We’ve had conversations with the tribe on all available options,” Mayor Tom Hoye from the city of Taunton, where the casino would be located, told the paper.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the tribe's application back in September 2015. But a lawsuit filed by casino opponents has forced the agency to reconsider.

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

A revised decision isn't expected until the end of October. Although the tribe remains optimistic, the Trump administration was prepared to reject the application until it decided to ask for more information.

At issue is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. In the 2009 ruling, the justices held that the BIA 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. The BIA must determine whether the tribe meets the "federal jurisdiction" criteria as a result of the lawsuit filed by casino opponents.

A commercial license is on the table as a result of a Massachusetts law that authorized up to three gaming facilities in the state. One license was set aside for the southeastern region, where the tribe is based.

Read More on the Story:
The Mashpee Wampanoag could seek a state casino license (The Boston Globe 7/20)
Mashpee Wampanoag casino: 10 years, $400M and counting (The New Bedford Standard-Times 7/20)
A new look at Mashpee tribe's status (The Cape Cod Times 7/14)

An Opinion:
Our View: Tribe should not be denied land in trust (The New Bedford Standard-Times 7/18)

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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