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October 13, 2012

Feds reject state-tribe deal for Taunton casino

(Continued)

Patrick also defended the 21.5 percent revenue deal as reflecting market reality.

“It presents an enormous economic benefit to the Tribe and justifies the proposed revenue sharing obligations in our agreement,” he said.

The casino law allows for up to three regional resort casinos in the state, but it gave exclusive rights in southeastern Massachusetts to a federally recognized Indian tribe if it agreed to a compact with the state by July 31, 2012.

Cedric Cromwell, tribal chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag, said rejection of the compact was a possibility that had been anticipated. He said the tribe was prepared to reopen negotiations with the state immediately.

“We believe that these issues can be resolved quickly and cooperatively, and the Compact can be re-submitted ... for swift action,” Cromwell said in his statement. “The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Commonwealth have negotiated respectfully and collaboratively to come to an initial agreement, and we will continue to negotiate in that same spirit.”

Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said the compact contained several provisions that did not comply with law, but that Washburn was hopeful a new agreement could be reached between the state and the tribe.

The tribe has proposed a $500 million, 150,000-square-foot casino on 146 acres at an industrial park at the junction of routes 24 and 140 in Taunton. The tribe reached a separate agreement with the city that calls for about $33 million in up-front payments to the city and minimum annual payments of $13 million after the casino begins operation.

Taunton Mayor Thomas Noye also expressed hope that the compact could be renegotiated to address the federal government’s concerns. He added that an initial $1.5 million payment made to Taunton by the tribe in August would be kept by the city regardless of whether the tribe wins approval to move forward with the casino.

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