BOSTON — A developer seeking to build a resort casino in New Bedford has ended its legal challenge to a portion of the state’s casino gambling law that gave initial preference to a federally recognized Indian tribe in southeastern Massachusetts.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in court documents Friday that an appeal by KG Urban Enterprises had been voluntarily dismissed.
The company filed a federal lawsuit against the state immediately after passage of the 2011 law that allowed for up to three regional resort casinos in Massachusetts, along with one slots parlor. The suit challenged the constitutionality of a provision that had the effect of giving the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe temporary exclusivity in the southeast region, saying that discriminated against potential commercial developers.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted in 2013 to begin accepting casino applications from commercial developers in the region, while continuing to monitor the tribe’s efforts to win federal approval for its proposed resort casino in Taunton. Lawyers for the state argued that the panel’s vote made the lawsuit moot because KG Urban and other developers were no longer barred from applying for casino licenses.
KG Urban disagreed, noting that the commission had still not guaranteed that commercial applicants in the southeast would be given the same consideration as those in the two other regions designated under the law.
U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton threw out the lawsuit in January, but the company appealed.
A spokesman for KG Urban said the decision to end the legal challenge stemmed from ongoing conversations with the gambling commission and negotiations with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell over a potential host community agreement for the proposed casino at the site of a former power plant on the city’s waterfront.