BOSTON — The state is moving to open up competition for a commercial casino license in Southeastern Massachusetts as the Mashpee Wampanoag continue to pursue a tribal casino in the region.
The tribe has exclusive rights to develop a casino there but faces major hurdles as it works to win federal approval. As a result, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby says it’s time to consider opening up the district to commercial competition.
“We don’t want to wake up in six months or a year or 18 months, if it turns out the tribe isn’t going to be successful, and then have to start the process from the very beginning,” Crosby said.
“We’re trying to protect two very important interests: the tribe’s interest in getting its first shot executed, while at the same time not letting Southeastern Massachusetts simply lie fallow for months and years,” he added.
Crosby says the tribe isn’t getting pushed out and could actually have two shots at the license.
“They could apply for a commercial application if we decide to go that way,” Crosby said. “And if they are not successful and they do eventually get their land in trust, they could go ahead and have gaming under tribal rights.”
Crosby says commercial bids will likely be dropped if the tribe gets the go-ahead for a casino from the federal government. The state is expected to make a decision whether to open up the region to more proposals in the next few weeks.