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Taunton City Council Approves Tribal Casino Proposal

An artist's rendering of the proposed Mashpee Wampanoag casino in Taunton (Courtesy)
An artist's rendering of the proposed Mashpee Wampanoag casino in Taunton (Courtesy)

It's an initial victory for a tribal casino proposal in Taunton, days ahead of a nonbinding citywide referendum on the plan.

With just one vote in opposition, the Taunton City Council voted Thursday night to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which is proposing to build a $500 million resort-style casino in the city.

As the Taunton Daily Gazette reports:

Some councilors wanted to postpone the decision and take more time to review impact studies from the city’s consultants, while others insisted on holding the council vote before the June 9 citywide referendum.

Councilors delayed a similar vote last week to have more time to study the proposal.

But following Thursday night's vote, Councilor Sherry Costa told our Newscast unit that the council wanted to move quickly on the issue because the tribe has until July 31 to complete any compact negotiations with the state.

"The time constraints, I just don't think that it's realistic to ask for more time, to continue this," she said. "I think we've done the best we could with what we had."

The June 9 referendum is nonbinding, but, as the Gazette reports:

Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. has said he would honor the voters’ wishes and lobby against the casino should the ballot question fail to pass. The city’s legal experts have said that would effectively kill the chances of tribe getting necessary state and federal clearance to build a casino in Taunton.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has claimed its proposal would create 1,000 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs. Taunton's gaming consultant estimates that the casino would bring in more than $8 million a year for the city.

This program aired on June 1, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital manager. He occasionally reports on economic and transportation policy, climate and social issues, and politics.

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