Monday, August 30, 2010

Mohegans In Talks To Purchase Land In Massachusetts

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Paul Brody, the vice president of development for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, told The Republican media outlet last week that the Tribe is in discussions to purchase the 150-acre Palmer, MA., site that it is currently leasing.

According the casino bill that is now on hold in Massachusetts, gaming companies must own the land where they will propose to locate their casinos.

Two years ago, the Mohegan gaming authority entered into a 50-year lease on the site with Northeast Realty, with an option to extend it to 99 years.

"We're in conversations now with (Northeast's manager Leon Dragone) and his group about how we'll address it. It's clear we're going to have to own it. It's clear that unless there's a change of heart in Boston that the operator has to own the property," said Paul I. Brody told The Republican.

"We're too far into this," Brody said.

Should Massachusetts ever pass new gaming legislation, the Mohegans intend to propose a $600 million casino resort but that number could change.

A casino bill was expected to be approved in Massachusetts over the summer but got hung up over how many slot parlors should be included in the plan.

The Massachusetts Senate and House agreed on three casinos and two slot parlors but Governor Deval Patrick was not willing to agree to any more than one slot parlor to augment the three casinos. Gov. Patrick refused to sign the bill and asked the two legislative bodies to reconvene and change their proposed plan.

So far there has been no word on whether the Senate and House will take up the issue in a special session. If they do not reconvene then discussions on a revised gambling bill will have to wait until the new legislative session begins in January.

In the meantime, the two federally recognized tribes in Massachusetts, the Mashpee Wampanoag and the Aquinnah Wampanoag, are trying to figure out how they can open up casinos under federal Indian gaming laws.