PATRICK ADMINISTRATION SUBMITS RESPONSE TO MASHPEE WAMPANOAG TRIBE LAND-IN-TRUST APPLICATION
Commonwealth Opposes Application Due to Lack of Specific Information on Safeguards and Protections
In a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Administration cites concerns that the Tribe's land-in-trust application fails to provide the BIA with the criteria required under its regulations and does not include important safeguards around environmental protection, zoning, transportation, labor, public safety, public health, and consumer protection. The BIA asked the Commonwealth to submit a response by February 6, 2008.
The response is consistent with Governor Deval Patrick's proposal for three commercial resort casinos, which has built in extensive safeguards and protections to account for public health, public safety, environmental, and other concerns. A tribal casino authorized through the land-in-trust process does not guarantee these safeguards or strict oversight of gaming activities.
"Because the placement of lands in trust may exempt certain activities on those lands from state and local laws, there are significant jurisdictional concerns at the state level which, unless resolved, should preclude the BIA from recommending approval of the Tribe's proposed acquisition," the letter states. "Those concerns include environmental issues relating to potential adverse impacts on wildlife and natural resources; zoning and land use concerns; transportation issues relating to increased traffic volume and the feasibility of proposed improvements; labor and employment issues relating to wage and benefit protections and the health and safety of employees; public safety, public health, and consumer protection concerns."
The Tribe will have the opportunity to respond to the BIA and attempt to address the Commonwealth's concerns.
For a copy of the Commonwealth's response, go to: www.mass.gov/governor/resortcasinos.