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Massachusetts Commission Members Debating Southeastern Casino

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has been given time by Massachusetts gaming regulators to develop their gaming facility in southeastern Massachusetts. Their time, however, may be drawing short, as regulators are growing critical of the tribe's plan to bring a casino to the region.

In 2011 Massachusetts lawmakers made strides towards bringing commercial casino developers and gaming facilities into the state. The southeastern region, however, was off limits as lawmakers did not want a commercial casino to interfere with a pending facility being built by the Mashpee tribe.

Fast-forward nearly two years, and the Mashpee's appear no closer to developing the casino. The slow process of gaining federal approval for the casino on the land has started the process of regulators re-considering the 2011 law that bans commercial casinos in the region.

Over the past few months, the gaming commission has been debating whether to lift the ban. All indications are that a vote and a decision are coming soon from the commission. The other regions in the state are moving closer to developing casinos, and regulators appear set on not having the southeast fall behind.

Even if the commission votes to lift the ban, the Mashpee tribe would be in a position to argue their case in court. The tribe believes they have an agreement in place to be the lone casino developer in the region.

"The (commission's) failure to appreciate the government-to-government agreement between the Mashpee Wampanoag and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is somewhat astonishing," said Attorney Howard M. Cooper.

The state is growing increasingly weary that the Mashpee tribe will ever gain the federal recognition needed to develop the casino. If the state waits a few more years before moving a casino into the southeast, the fear is that the region would be far behind the other regions in the state in terms of gambling.

Massachusetts is attempting to enter a market that has become increasingly competitive in the northeast. The state is following in the footsteps of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine, and Maryland, all states that have expanded their casino industry over the past several years.

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