Friday, August 28, 2009

Brockton Enterprise Editorial: Long odds on Wampanoag casino deal

The Brockton Enterprise isn't giving the Wampanoag Indian gaming scheme good odds in securing their casino deal on behalf of their Asian gambling syndicate financial backers at Genting.  Here is what they have to say:

If we were gambling folks, we would wager that there won’t be a casino built in Middleboro any time soon — or ever.

A series of setbacks has made it clear that Middleboro officials and the Wampanoag Indians who want to build a $1 billion casino complex over 500 acres have no special standing. Their plans are no more likely to come to fruition than gambling dreams in any other community in the state. In fact, the odds may be greater.

The setbacks have been increasingly crushing — a sharp contrast from a landmark town meeting two years ago that gave approval to a deal that would allow the Indians to build their casino in Middleboro.

Both top negotiators have departed the scene: Tribal Chairman Glenn Marshall to prison for embezzlement, and former Selectman Adam Bond back to the private sector (and “optimistically” saying the odds of a casino being built “are 50-50, at best.”)

The town already has collected $1 million in payments from the tribe and is still sitting on more than half of it, debating whether to spend it on needs directly related to a casino. Our advice is to sit tight for now. Spend some of it as needed, but don’t rush to spend any more money on casino needs when a casino is looking less likely each passing day.

A report commissioned by neighboring Halifax has questioned the Wampanoag tribe’s claim to historical ties to Middleboro. The U.S. Supreme Court also threw up a major obstacle in February, ruling that newly recognized tribes — which include the Wampanoags — have no right to “sovereign” land.

That has been the key to other tribes’ ability to build casinos, and after that ruling, the Indians’ financial backers turned off the cash spigot. Their reluctance to continue pouring money into the plans also may have had something to do with the lousy economy. Casinos across the country are reporting record drops in revenues and previously booming sites like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have laid off workers — something almost unheard of.

The state now holds most of the cards in the question of whether gambling halls will come to Massachusetts. The Wampanoags have no more special status than any other group — from race tracks to international investors — who want to build a casino, or at least a slot machine parlor.

There is no special incentive for the state to grant Middleboro a casino license. A casino is just as likely to be built in New Bedford, Raynham, Revere or western Massachusetts.

The Wampanoags rolled the dice, and haven’t come up craps quite yet, but they are more likely to end up with snake-eyes than a 7 or 11.

So the question I have is, what happens when you don't deliver to your Asian bankers?  How will the Wampanoag and the elected officials benefiting from their campaign contributions pull them out of this mess?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

City Report Claims Wampanoag Have No Legitimate Land Claim

The Enterprise's Alice Elwell reports that  a $5,000 report, commissioned by Halifax selectmen, that it claims shows the Wampanoag tribe has no legitimate land claims.

“It’s yet another hurdle to cross,” said Richard Young, president of Middleboro’s CasinoFacts as well as the statewide coalition, Casino Free Mass.
John H. Bruno II, chairman of the Halifax Board of Selectmen, said his board commissioned the so-called Lynch report and submitted it in February in opposition to the tribe’s application to take land into trust.
Bruno said that besides the lack of tribal ties to the land, there are a host of other issues that should prevent the Mashpee Wampanoag from opening a casino in Middleboro.
“I hope the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) questions their claim to a right to establish a casino on that property,” Bruno said.
The town of Halifax opposes a casino in Middleboro and selectmen have joined the Southeastern Regional Task Force On Casino Impacts. Bruno said the Lynch report was paid for by his town and commissioned independently of the task force.
Aaron Tobey, vice chairman of the tribal council, said the Mashpee Wampanoag are relying on an in-depth study undertaken by New York researcher Christine Grabowski.
Tobey said Grabowski’s final report has yet to be released, but during a presentation last year, she compiled “convincing evidence” the tribe has links to the land in Middleboro.
But about the Lynch report, Tobey said, “In all honesty, if it’s true it will save us all a lot of headaches.”
The tribe is moving forward with the land-into-trust application that seeks to take more than 500 acres in Middleboro out of state jurisdiction and turn it into a reservation to be used for a casino.
Brian P. Giovanoni, former chairman of the town’s Casino Resort Advisory Committee, says he found inaccuracies in Lynch’s report from the beginning.
He said the Lynch rebuttal consists of eight key points which debunk the tribe’s ties to Middleboro and claims the Mashpee Wampanoag are a “new unique community.”
Giovanni said that claim is in direct contradiction to the tribe’s federal recognition, which found continuous tribal ties dating to first contact with the Settlers.
“He’s saying this tribe didn’t exist in 1620,” Giovanoni said. “He’s contradicting the findings of the federal government.”
What legal hurdles will Governor Patrick and Senator Murray face trying to push through this special deal for the Wampanoag now?  Will this mean Asian gambling syndicate Genting's money with the Wampanoag was a bad bet?