Thursday, March 20, 2008

Commercial Casino Plan In Massachusetts Moves Closer To Defeat

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Connecticut's Indian casinos may not face competition from commercial casinos in Massachusetts after all. Two Indian tribes in Massachusetts, however, will likely push ahead with their own plans for casino on future reservation lands.

A key Massachusetts legislative committee on economic development voted against Governor Deval Patrick’s plans for commercial casinos earlier today. House members are expected to debate the bill and a final floor vote could come as early as tomorrow but many believe that Gov. Patrick will not be able to avoid defeat.

The legislature’s Committee on Economic Development voted 10-8 against the casino plan after aggressive lobbying by House Speaker Sal DiMasi against the plan. One committee member abstained from voting on the measure.

Gov. Patrick said, "I think the process, given the midnight maneuvers last night and the backing-and-forthing today, speaks for itself. I’m disappointed because this was a thoughtful and serious proposal."

The vote will not affect the Mashpee Wampanoag's plan for a casino on land that they are requesting to be taken into trust as revervation land. The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, however, was planning on bidding on one of the three commerical casino licenses outlined in the governor's plan. If the governor's plan is defeated, the Aquinnahs would likely take the same route as the Mashpees and seek a casino on reservation land.

The Mohegans and Mashantuckets had also previously expressed interest in bidding on commerical casino licenses in Massachusetts.