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Wampanoag tribe ask Patrick to negotiate casino deal

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September 3, 2008

MIDDLEBOROUGH, MA - The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sent a 7-page letter today to Gov. Patrick asking to negotiate an agreement to build a $1 billion casino resort in Middleborough. It requests negotiations begin "at the earliest mutually convenient date." The casino would feature 4,000 slot machines, table games, a 1,500-room hotel, and a golf course.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi since any agreement will require approval from the legislature.

"We'd like to start the negotiations and get the ball rolling," tribal chairman Shawn Hendricks said yesterday. "I see no reason why the state wouldn't sit and talk with us."

The tribe has applied to the U.S. Department of Interior to take their land into trust for the purpose of building the casino under the National Indian Gaming Act. The tribe expects federal approval in the in the first or second quarter of 2009, which would allow them to develop a casino without state approval.

The Wampanoag letter stated: "No matter what ultimately happens with the negotiations, please know that it is the Tribe's intent to operate America's most successful casino resort in Middleborough. We hope that we can do so in a manner which benefits all of us to the fullest extent possible."

If an agreement can be reached with the state and the federal approvals are granted, the tribe may be able to start construction of their casino as early as spring 2009.

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