This is the Song that Never Ends…
With the casino debate set to kick off in the State House today, the prevailing wisdom is that Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal for expanded gaming has about as good a chance of coming back to life as Ted Williams. But even if the legislature ices Patrick’s bill, don’t think you’ve heard the last of this casino business. Despite laying low for the last few months, the Mashpee Wampanoag continue to pursue a casino under federal Indian gaming law, and they are still very much in play.
As the Globe explains this morning, the tribe does have significant hurdles to clear. Not the least of which—as we pointed out last month—being who gets elected president. But, the tribe will continue pressing for a casino, and making a fair amount of noise in the process.
As for whether the House quashes Patrick’s proposal, Mashpee spokesman Scott Ferson indicated that the tribe is not overly concerned.
“The tribe filed its application before the state weighed in,” Ferson said over the phone yesterday. “If the legislature decides to reject what the legislation proposed, then the tribe will still be in the exact same position as when it filed its position.”
Well, not quite the exact same position. If the legislation fails, the tribe won’t have the benefit of legalized class 3 gaming (that means slots, table games, etc.), and they’ll have to keep their fingers crossed that the Department of Interior approves their application. On the flip side, if they do ever succeed in opening a casino, it means the Mashpee won’t have to worry about any in-state competition. For the tribe, the fate of the bill represents a pro-con trade-off.
Regardless of how things turn out in the State House, the Mashpee have spent too much time and money to simply fold up their tents now. They’re going to do what they can to push their casino plan through the federal process to the bloody end. So even if Patrick’s bill gets stomped today, don’t think the game is entirely over. You can still expect to hear plenty about casinos in the coming months.