Tribe, Taunton Reach Deal On Proposed Casino

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe would make approximately $33 million in upfront payments to Taunton as part of a deal reached with the city's mayor to allow the tribe to build a resort casino in the southeastern Massachusetts community.

The agreement announced Thursday by tribal chairman Cedric Cromwell and Mayor Thomas Hoye also calls for minimum annual payments of about $13 million to the city.

The tribe has proposed a $500 million casino on 146 acres of land at the junction of Routes 24 and 140. The complex, to be built in stages over a five-year period, also would include three 300-room hotels, retail shops, meeting space for business events and a family water park.

The state's new gambling law requires casino developers to negotiate a host community agreement that would provide a municipality with money to deal with the impact of a casino.

In a statement, Cromwell said the deal, which must also be approved by the city council and by Taunton voters, would create a "mutually beneficial partnership" with the city and shows that the tribe is committed to "mitigating all impacts to city services as well as providing direct payments that Taunton can use to plan its own future."

Even with a host community agreement, the proposal would still face obstacles.

Under the casino law, the tribe has a July 31 deadline to negotiate a compact with the state. The tribe also would be required to place the casino land parcel into federal trust.

Under the agreement announced Thursday, the tribe would make an initial $1.5 payment to the city 30 days after a compact is announced with the state.

It would then pay $15 million for traffic congestion relief, including $10 million to improve the Route 24/140 intersection. Other upfront payments totaling more than $15 million would go toward city services such as police, fire, water and sewer, and $60,000 would be provided to combat compulsive gambling.

The agreement would require the tribe to pay the city 2 percent of annual slots revenue, or a minimum of $8 million a year, along with payments in lieu of taxes and other annual mitigation payments after the casino opens.

A June 9 referendum is scheduled in Taunton on the casino proposal.

The state law - which allows for up to three resort casinos - gives exclusive rights to a federally-recognized Indian tribe to build a casino in southeastern Massachusetts if it meets the July 31 deadline.

The Martha's Vineyard-based Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah also is seeking to build a casino in the region, but the state has contended that the tribe ceded its right to gaming in a 1980s land agreement.

This program aired on May 17, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


More from WBUR

Listen Live