Lobbyists for Indian tribes, financed by their backers in Malaysia and South Africa, along with the lobbyists for the slot machine and video poker companies have been paid millions of dollars and have funneled hundreds of thousands more in campaign cash to state legislators to make sure special tribal preference language is part of Massachusetts gambling legislation. They’ve impressed upon our politically correct elected officials that we owe this to the disenfranchised Native Americans living among us. What’s really behind this scheming?
The Massachusetts Indian tribes, mainly the Mashpee Wampanoag, need this special carve out because they currently don’t qualify to set up an Indian casino and need this tribal preference to hold off any competition until such a time as they’re able to overcome all the various hurdles they face. Previous Massachusetts gaming legislative proposals mistakenly believed they could force the tribes to pay fees and share revenues – something the Supreme Court and Indian Gaming regulatory authorities have clearly said cannot be enforced. Once a tribe like the Mashpee Wampanoag qualifies under federal law, they won’t need any state permission or legislation to set up a casino. The Mashpee Wampanoag and their financial backers from Malaysia know this and their position was made clear by the tribe in 2010 telling the media:
If the Mashpee tribe does not get the (sole, non-competitive) commercial license in this part of the state, it will compete head-on with the company that does, Tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell said. "If we have land into trust, we could do class II gaming and not give (the state) a dime.” Adding, “We will destroy the competition, because we won’t pay licensing fees or taxes and we will provide a great player experience with more wins.”
“Great player experience with more wins” is code for more, unrestricted slot machines. And, the slot machine and video poker companies are big players here. These companies, like the one represented by former Deval Patrick aid Doug Rubin, benefit more from Indian casino operations than state regulated non-Indian casinos – selling slot machines at $10,000 to $30,000 apiece and up means more than $100 million in sales for each Indian casino like Foxwoods. Slot limits, sales taxes and licensing fees required by the state when slot companies sell to non-Indian casinos makes those much less attractive and less lucrative than Indian gaming operations which are free from such messy restrictions and costs imposed by the state.
Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Therese Murray and these gambling lobbyists hope we’re not paying attention to the details and costs for the Commonwealth, our local communities and the people of Massachusetts if this special interest carve out is included in the legislation which is expected to be presented to the legislature this September. We are paying attention and suggest that our elected officials in the State Legislature pay heed as well.
A tribal preference, no matter how crafted, will mean three simple things: 1. Less revenue for the state budget; 2. Longer wait for desired development and casino jobs; and 3. Loss of local jurisdiction and controls for the impacted communities. Who benefits? Just the tribe’s foreign financial backers and the slot machine companies. We’re watching.