Tribal Organization: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
CASINO PROJECT IS STOPPED
FIRST LIGHT RESORT AND CASINO
Routes 24 & Route 140
Taunton, MA 02718
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe proposed four-phase plan to build a $1 billion casino in Taunton about 40 miles south of Boston and 20 miles from Providence.
The plan includes a 150,000 sq-ft casino with 3,000 slots, 150 table games and 40 poker tables, two 12-story hotel towers with 300 rooms each, indoor/Outdoorpater park, a family water park hotel and many restaurants.
The state enacted the Massachusetts Casino Bill extablishing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) and authorizing three regional casinos and a slots parlor.
A non-binding ballot measure in support of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's casino proposal was passed by voters in Taunton, but rejected by voters in East Taunton where the casino would be built.
In Sept 2015 the U.S. Department of the Interior approved the Tribe's request to take their land into federal trust, including their 152-acre casino site in Taunton. This transfer was completed January 8, 2016.
In April the tribe broke ground to begin construction of their casino.
In July construction stopped when a U.S. District Court judge ruled the federal land transfer violated the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The Interior Department appealed.
In April the U.S. Interior Department decided to drop its appeal and seek a legal alternative.
In September Interior Department ultimately conceded that the tribal land could not be kept in trust.
The tribe is seeking federal legislation to overcome its legal challenges to build the casino. A bill to support this was reintroduced to the U.S. Congress Jan 8th by by U.S. representatives William Keating and Joe Kennedy.
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The First Light casino plan calls for construction to be completed in 4 phases. These phases and their estimated schedules are shown below:
150,000 Sq. Ft.
150 table games
40 poker tables
Food Court - 7 to 10 food outlets
Two Fine Dining Restaurants
- Steakhouse / Seafood
- Asian Restaurant
Center Bar with lounge seats and small stage
Retail Space - 10 retail stores
Parking - 2,500 to 3,200 space parking garage and 2,085 surface parking spaces
Hotel Tower 1
Additional gaming space
12 Stories in height
6 Event / Meeting Rooms
Hotel Tower 2
Cafe restaurant - 200 seat, open 24 hours
Family Water Park Hotel
Event Center - 15,000 sq ft
Indoor/Outdoor Water Park - 25,000 Sq. Ft.
Parking - additional 700 surface parking spots
January 8, 2019
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hopes the U.S Congress will reconsider and pass legislation to keep the tribe's reservation land in federal trust and allow the tribe to proceed with its casino plans. A Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Re-affirmation bill was reintroduced to Congress on Jan 8 by U.S. representatives William Keating and Joe Kennedy.
"We are extremely grateful that a bipartisan group of Congressional representatives understands the injustice of taking sovereign land away from the first Americans and have moved swiftly to ensure this nation does not return to the dark days of removing indigenous people from their land," wrote Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell in a statement released Monday.
The bill must first pass the Senate and House and signed by the President before a legal challenged can be launched.Back
September 07, 2018
On Friday a decision was made that put the future Taunton Casino development on hold. The casino project would be owned by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Cape Cod. The casino would have cost $1 billion to complete.
The tribe was notified that the land where they wanted to build the casino would not be placed into trust for them by the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 2015 300 acres were placed into trust by the department for the tribe. The tribe was then able to use the land as their sovereign reservation as it was declared as such by the federal government. However, long lasting and ongoing legal battles by residents in the area caused a delay in the project. The department was then ordered by a federal judge to reconsider the action of placing the land into trust. The judge ruled that putting the land into trust did not fall under the authority of the department to do so.
In the ruling that was 28 pages long, it was said that land cannot be placed into trust for the tribe under the Indian Reorganization Act. The act was passed in 1934. Under this act, the tribe does not qualify to have the land placed into trust because it was not under the federal jurisdiction when it passed.
The tribe can trace their ancestors back to the arrival of the Pilgrims. However, they did not receive their federal recognition until 2007.
The federal government can grant a special status by placing land into trust. The property title is held by the government and allows for a tribe to use the land for their own use under their own decisions. They are free to use the land's natural resources and are tax exempt.
Ground was previously broken for the Taunton Casino project. However, construction was stopped by the tribe after the ruling.Back