Tribe Could Seek State Casino License If Land Lawsuit Fails | Mashpee News

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe made headlines this week about the possibility of seeking a state casino license in Taunton if its land in trust application fails.

Taunton Mayor Thomas C. Hoye Jr. said that he had spoken about the matter with the tribe, which had discussed pursuing a state casino license as a last-case scenario. Stories quoting the mayor appeared in The Boston Globe and the Taunton Gazette.

“They want to see this project through,” Mr. Hoye said of the tribe. “If land in trust proves too big a hurdle, my guess is they would pursue a commercial license.”

Under federal law, tribes can pursue a casino without the need for a state license on land trusted by the US Government. The tribe has already purchased 150 acres of land in Taunton where the proposed casino is planned.

But the tribe’s bid for land in trust is in limbo. Although the US Department of the Interior has stated the tribe’s land remains in trust, a lawsuit filed by 25 East Taunton residents has threatened its status.

But Michelle Littlefield, a lead East Taunton plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that Mayor Hoye’s comments are nothing more than a “political game.” Mr. Hoye has announced his candidacy for reelection in November. Ms. Littlefield also wondered why Genting Group, that has financed the tribe’s bid for a casino and has casinos throughout the world, would bother with the tribe rather than pursue its own casino through a state license.

“It has nothing to do with politics or anything else,” Mayor Hoye said. “It just makes sense. They want to see a return on their investments.”

Ms. Littlefield also wondered why the tribe has not made any comments in the news media regarding a state gaming application.

A tribal spokesperson did not respond for comment for this story.

Still, Ms. Littlefied…

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