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Advisor: Massachusetts tribal casino not sure thing

18 March 2008

MASSACHUSETTS -- As reported by the Boston Globe: "Governor Deval Patrick has repeatedly argued that the state should license casinos because, with or without state approval, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe will inevitably build one under federal rules. But, in reality, Wampanoag tribal leaders have embarked on a venture that is fraught with uncertainty, their hopes for gambling riches by no means guaranteed.

"Daniel O'Connell, the state secretary of economic development and Patrick's chief gaming adviser, recently expressed confidence.

"...Most immediately, the fate of the tribe's casino proposal could hinge on the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. A victory by Senator John McCain, who strongly opposes so-called off-reservation Indian casinos, could derail the Wampanoags' effort because they are seeking to build 25 miles from their headquarters on Cape Cod. Even a victory by Democrats Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, who have murkier positions on tribal gaming, would not make a tribal casino a foregone conclusion.

"The tribe is also attempting a political and bureaucratic feat that the Bureau of Indian Affairs says has never been tried: parlaying tribal recognition, which it received in February 2007, into two tracts of reservation land 25 miles apart, with one targeted for a casino, the other for its tribal headquarters on Cape Cod.

"...In a bid to skirt those concerns about their plan to build a $1 billion casino in Middleborough, the Wampanoags are trying something novel. They are asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to grant federal trust reservation status simultaneously to both their traditional Mashpee tribal headquarters on Cape Cod and the casino site in Middleborough.

"...Even Patrick administration officials have expressed conflicting views on chances of the Mashpee Wampanoags' success. Most recently, the administration has argued that the tribe's casino is inevitable..."

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