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Feds Reject Casino Compact Between Mass. And Mashpee Tribe

BOSTON — The Mashpee Wampanaog tribe on Friday suffered a substantial setback in its bid to build a resort-style casino in Taunton.

Federal authorities announced in a letter (PDF) that provisions in the compact between the tribe and the state do not comply with U.S. law.

The state and tribal leaders reached a deal this summer to share gambling revenue. Under the agreement, the state would get 21.5 percent of the tribe’s future gambling revenues — a higher percentage than the state would get from other, commercial casino operators.

But federal officials rejected the gaming compact. The Bureau of Indian Affairs wants better terms for the tribe.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the decision is “deeply disappointing.” He called the compact a fair deal, considering the tribe is getting preference for a casino. (Under the new state law, the compact gives the tribe exclusive rights to develop a casino in southeastern Massachusetts.)

But Patrick said the state will now go back to the negotiating table.

The tribal chairman said he’s also disappointed but believes the outstanding issues can be resolved quickly.

Added Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, in a statement:

The Assistant Secretary strongly encourages the Commonwealth to negotiate a new gaming compact with the Tribe in good faith and in accordance with IGRA so that the Tribe may proceed with efforts to strengthen its economy.

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