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The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is taking the first concrete steps to pursue one of three casino licenses in Massachusetts.
The tribe announced Wednesday that it has entered into an option to purchase land alongside Route 24 in Taunton as a possible location for a resort-style casino. The tribe says the complex would create "thousands of jobs" in the area.
Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye stressed Wednesday that this is just the beginning of a conversation with the tribe to locate a casino in the city, and it's ultimately up to Taunton residents to decide if a casino could be located there.
But the mayor says he's confident a casino could provide his city some badly needed revenue, "for infrastructure upgrades, hiring of much-needed public safety personnel, recreational opportunities for our youth, downtown revitalization funds and also, of course, small business attraction."
Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell says the project would bring an economic boost to the city.
"This is an opportunity to build and provide thousands of jobs, much-needed jobs, a wide range of jobs, where people can work and go to work and be proud of what they're doing, and provide for their families," Cromwell said. "That's very important to all of us."
The state's new casino law gives the tribe until the end of July to enter into a compact with the state to secure one of the three casino licenses. Otherwise, the license for southeastern Massachusetts will be open to competitive bidding.
Clyde Barrow, the director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, says the tribe still faces significant hurdles.
"Residents of the city will have to approve the casino," he said. "[The tribe will] have to successfully negotiate a compact with the governor regarding the terms of the casino, including revenue sharing with the state. Finally, they have to get the land into trust with the federal government, which could be an onerous and time-consuming process."
This program aired on February 29, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.
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