Friday, June 24, 2011


Which legislative plan for casino gaming  offers the best return on investment (ROI) to the taxpayers?  Here are the best case scenarios for delivering value to the taxpayers of Massachusetts: 

State legislation without special carve outs for Indian Gaming (5 steps)  1. Legislative approval (state lobbyist jobs - now) => 2. State required impact studies and approvals (consultant jobs – 2011-2012) IF APPROVED  => 3. Approved projects move forward (local construction jobs – 2013) => 4. Gaming operations open (local employment and economic benefits – 2014) => 5. First casino, sales and local income tax revenues to state budget 2015

State legislation with special carve outs for Indian Gaming (8-plus steps) => 1. Legislative approval ( state lobbyist jobs – now) => 2. Legal challenge to 'carve outs' (lawyer jobs – 2011-2012+)  =>  3. Act of Congress to “fix Carcieri” (federal lobbyist jobs – 2011 – 2012+) IF APPROVED[1] => 4. Appeals of any state legal findings (appeals lawyer jobs – 2012-2013+) IF APPEALS SUCCESSFUL => 5. Required Department of Interior Indian gaming and state required impact studies and approvals (consultant jobs and federal lobbyist jobs – 2013-2019+) IF APPROVED[2] => 6. Federally approved Indian gaming projects move forward (local construction jobs – 2020+) => 7. Indian gaming operations open (local employment and economic benefits – 2021+) => 8. First tax revenues to state budget (only from non-tribe income taxes and “off reservation” local economic benefits) 2022+

The best possible, but highly unlikely, case for economic benefits for Massachusetts for a legislative approval of state gaming which includes an Indian gaming carve out is 2022 – eleven years away.  The likelihood of Massachusetts Wampanoag gaming approvals and legal challenges meeting this “best case” scenario timeline is slim to none.  No tribe with similar background challenges such as the Wampanoag history of fraud and corruption convictions has received federal approval for gaming.  No Indian gaming operation which has regional political opposition due to negative employment impact studies (Rhode Island) has ever been approved.  Typical approvals with the current backlog of over 20 pending applications, not taking into consideration the added applicants IF the Congress enacts legislation to “fix Carcieri” is typically 10-15 years. 

Massachusetts legislators have the opportunity to choose between near term local construction jobs, local employment and economic impact with real tax revenues for the state coffers over more dollars for lobbyists and lawyers.  Unfortunately the lobbyists and lawyers are the ones who have been funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to state elected officials like Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray. 

[1] Attempts to “fix Carcieri” (Carcieri v. Salazar Supreme Court Decision which  states the Department of Interior may NOT grant land into trust for Indian gaming to tribes not recognized prior to 1934,i.e., Wampanoag and Narragansett)  have met with opposition from states with existing Indian gaming.

[2] Currently there are more than 20 applications pending before DOI and with the approval times for any prior application being six (6) years to fifteen (15) years.


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