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Wampanoag Tribes Stand To Gain From Casino Plan

BOSTON — If newly proposed casino legislation becomes law as currently written on Beacon Hill, two of the winner’s could be the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on Cape Cod and the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe on Martha’s Vineyard.

The casino plan grants the tribes the exclusive right to negotiate an agreement with the state to build a casino in southeastern Massachusetts, which makes a tribal casino a lot more likely, said Joe Kalt, a Harvard professor who heads Harvard’s Project on American Indian Economic Development.

“I think both the Aquinnah Wampanoag and Mashpee Wampanoag have been trying for years to get something off the ground, so this is a good start for them,” Kalt told Morning Edition’s Bob Oakes.

Massachusetts has a lot to gain from Indian gaming, according to Kalt.

“First, they create a lot of jobs. Second, Massachusetts has had casinos, they’ve just been down in Connecticut,” Kalt said, referring to Indian casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. “One of the things that’s going to happen in Massachusetts is that money is going to stay home.”

A tribal casino in Massachusetts “is not a foregone conclusion,” Kalt said, especially because there are federal legal issues with tribal casinos off reservation land.

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