PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES OPEN AND TRANSPARENT PROCESS TO PREPARE FOR POTENTIAL NATIVE AMERICAN GAMING COMPACT
BOSTON – Thursday, December 15, 2011 – The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced an open and transparent process to prepare for a potential Native American gaming compact in Massachusetts. The Administration will begin by retaining a specialized law firm and financial advisor through a competitive procurement process.
“We respect our Mashpee Wampanoag tribal partners and want to work with them together on this process,” said Governor Patrick. “The Expanded Gaming Act accounts for the reality of tribal gaming and these steps will help us prepare for a potential compact to maximize new jobs and revenue for our residents in the southeastern region.”
The Expanded Gaming Act does not create an exclusive licensing process for a Native American tribe in the southeastern region of Massachusetts. Rather, it provides an opportunity for a Massachusetts-based, federally recognized Native American sovereign nation to enter into a government-to-government compact to conduct tribal gaming in the region, as permitted by federal law.
Under the Expanded Gaming Act, a federally recognized Native American sovereign nation, such as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, would be entitled to conduct gaming through a tribal casino on tribal lands in southeastern Massachusetts.
Establishing a tribal casino would require a government-to-government compact. It would not require a commercial casino license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Such a compact would need to be negotiated between the tribe and the Commonwealth following an agreement to purchase land for tribal gaming development and a scheduled vote in the host community for approval of the proposed development.
In addition, a compact mutually agreed upon between the Governor and a tribe must be ratified by the Legislature by July 31, 2012; and subsequently approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Any tribal casino would also require land to be taken into trust for the benefit of the tribe by the federal government.
All of the details of the tribal-state compact, including revenue sharing between Massachusetts and a tribal casino, jurisdictional issues and regulation, would be determined as part of the compact negotiations. If there is no compact approved by the Legislature by July 31, 2012, the Gaming Commission would then issue a request for bids for a commercial casino license in the southeastern region.
This will help to ensure the southeastern region is not in limbo due to uncertainty about a potential tribal facility and to capture gaming revenue for the region and state. Limiting the number of destination resort casinos to no more than three, distributed throughout defined regions of the state, is the best way to maintain valuable market capacity and maximize short and long-term job creation and economic development opportunities for the Commonwealth.
A Request for Responses is being issued to identify the specialized law firm and financial advisor to assist with compact negotiations. The Request for Responses is available at http://www.comm-pass.com/. It is expected that the firms will be selected by the end of January 2012.
All costs related to the public procurement will be paid from an appropriation provided to the Governor’s Office under the Act and will be reimbursed to the Commonwealth from initial license fees on commercial gaming facilities under the Act, when such licenses are issued by the Gaming Commission.
The Patrick-Murray Administration has taken steps to ensure that the implementation of expanded gaming in Massachusetts is carried out through an open and transparent process. On December 13, Governor Patrick appointed Stephen Crosby as chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The five-member independent Gaming Commission will be responsible for implementing and overseeing the gaming licensing process and regulation of the industry. Unless requested by the Governor, the Gaming Commission does not play a role in tribal compact negotiations.