Mohegans, Aquinnahs and Senecas Unite?
We already know that the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Martha’s Vineyard, in their quest to open a casino in Massachusetts, have partnered with the Seneca Nation of Indians, experienced gamers from western New York. But could another alliance, this time with Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe (of Mohegan Sun fame), be on the horizon?
“I wouldn’t rule that out,” says Mohegan Tribe Chief of Staff Chuck Bunnell. “The two tribal nations have a long history of communication and are continuing in that vein of openness. At this point in time there is no agreement. But certainly we have a lot of mutual respect and we continue to communicate.”
It’s no secret that the Mohegans have been interested in opening a casino in Massachusetts, and that they covet a site in Palmer in the western part of the state. According to Deval Patrick‘s casino legislation, as currently drafted, only one gaming license will be granted in the commonwealth’s western region, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s where the Aquinnah also have set their sights. Rather than compete head to head, the thinking is that it makes more sense for the tribes to join up.
Factor in that Patrick’s legislation calls (admittedly, somewhat curiously) for any group partnered with a federally recognized Indian tribe to receive preferential treatment in the bidding process, and the motivation becomes stronger.
“We certainly have a great deal of respect for Governor Patrick and believe that he wants to give preference to those tribes in Massachusetts and we take him seriously,” Bunnell said in reference to the clause, though he added, “Whether that [clause] will be part of the final legislation or not, no one knows.”