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Easton-Area Casino Agreement Rejected By Federal Government

Gov. Deval Patrick calls casino news a "setback in what has been a long journey."

Talks to build a casino in Taunton, just 10 miles away from the Easton, suffered a major setback Friday when the US Department of Interior rejected the casino agreement between Governor Deval Patrick and the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.

Upon hearing the news, Patrick released a statement promising to renegotiate.

"The Compact calls for us to resume negotiations in the face of a federal disapproval and requires legislative approval of any renegotiated compact," Patrick said. "Those conversations will begin in earnest as we work with our partners in the legislature to determine next steps and the tribe’s land in trust application continues to be reviewed by Interior. I remain committed to striking an appropriate balance which protects the best interests of the Commonwealth and the tribe. I believe our Compact struck that balance. We will try to do so again."

The proposed casino would be on the corner of Route 24 and Route 140, approximately 10 miles from Easton's border, causing Easton officials to express concern.

At a recent selectmen's meeting, Acting Director of Community Planning Stephanie Danielson said that the biggest concern about the casino would be the added traffic on Routes 138 and 106 because of accidents occurring on Route 24 “frequently at 44, 140, and 495 during rush hour traffic.”

Others in the area have expressed concern as well. An online petition directed to the Dept. of Interior was signed by 298 people.

Below is the full statement from Gov. Patrick:

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Department of Interior is deeply disappointing on a number of levels. For starters, we negotiated in good faith with the Tribe, and the carefully bargained Compact was extraordinarily fair to both sides. Its terms rightly recognized and respected the sovereign rights of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe while remaining consistent with the goals and principles of the Expanded Gaming Act – namely bringing jobs and economic development to every region of the state. By rejecting the agreement on the grounds of the revenue share and our acceptance of the Tribe's request to separately negotiate its tribal hunting and fishing rights, Interior is substituting its judgment for the Tribe’s. I believe Interior's approach is outdated and does not adequately take into account our unique circumstances here in Massachusetts.

With respect to the revenue share issue, our Compact reflects our Southcoast market reality. The market, not Interior, sets the value of gaming. Additionally, allowing the Tribe early entry into this market represents a meaningful concession on the Commonwealth’s part. It presents an enormous economic benefit to the Tribe and justifies the proposed revenue sharing obligations in our agreement.

This is a setback on what has been a long journey, but we are not done. The Tribe has persevered before and it will again with the Commonwealth at its side. I commend Chairman Cedric Cromwell and Vice Chair Aaron Tobey for their passionate and able leadership of the Tribe. We remain partners.

The Compact calls for us to resume negotiations in the face of a federal disapproval and requires legislative approval of any renegotiated compact. Those conversations will begin in earnest as we work with our partners in the legislature to determine next steps and the Tribe’s land in trust application continues to be reviewed by Interior. I remain committed to striking an appropriate balance which protects the best interests of the Commonwealth and the Tribe. I believe our Compact struck that balance. We will try to do so again.”

Janet Sroczynski October 12, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Just say "no" to a casino in Massachusetts.
Harry Hockamyer October 13, 2012 at 01:36 PM
sure... let's promote a casino to prop up the southeastern part of the state, maybe then we can finance the train to nowhere? vote this idiot out now! Deval is short for ' De-value ' our Sense of Community !

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