One need not read past the second page of the proposed gaming bill to see who’s in the driver’s seat. What’s amazing is how our state legislators could read this and not realize how ridiculous every rule written after page two will look if this passes. Starting with Section 2 of this legislation we are told right up front that a special interest preference for an Indian casino is going to create expensive problems for the state right from the start:
Section 2: “To provide for certain costs associated with the implementation of expanded gaming in the commonwealth, including, but not limited to, costs related to legal, financial and other professional services required for the negotiation and execution of a compact with a federally recognized Indian tribe in the Commonwealth to establish a casino in region C…. $5,000,000
OK, so what does this mean?
- · More money, taxpayer funds, for lawyers, lobbyists and public relations flacks – which they anticipate will be needed with an Indian gaming preference (Note: there isn’t anything in the Bill which says the Indian tribe should pay for this courtesy – just the taxpayers!)
- · The only “federally recognized” tribe “in the Commonwealth” are the Wampanoag – so why not just say so? Of the five Wampanoag bands, only the Mashpee are vying for a casino in region C (defined in the legislation as Bristol, Plymouth, Nantucket, Dukes and Barnstable counties)… Thank you Bill Delahunt and the hundreds of thousands spend on other casino lobbyists paid by Genting and the Wampanoag.
- · Negotiate and execute a compact? When are the Massachusetts legislators going to bone up on their federal law and recent Supreme Court rulings? Calling it a compact doesn’t change the fact that ONLY the federal government can enter into any binding or enforceable agreements with an Indian tribe. Spending $5 million of the taxpayer money on lawyers and lobbyists won’t change that. Once the Wampanoag get their special set aside deal with the state and open up their doors, they can walk away from any deal cut with no repercussions whatsoever.
SECTION 89: (c) The governor shall only enter into negotiations under this section with a tribe that has purchased, or entered into an agreement to purchase, a parcel of land for the proposed tribal gaming development and scheduled a vote in the host communities for approval of the proposed tribal gaming development… The commission shall issue a request for applications for a category 1 license in Region C.
- The people of Region C - Bristol, Plymouth, Nantucket, Dukes and Barnstable counties will have no opportunity to weigh options for a non-Indian casino under this proposed legislation; even though the state legislators from this part of the Commonwealth have opposed bringing Indian gaming to their communities…
That aside, the remainder of the bill has extensive language about rules, investigations and enforcements for casinos in the state. So we shouldn’t be worried about corruption or unintended ill affects these casinos will have. Well, that’s to say nobody outside of “region C” (Southeast MA). None of the proscribed rules in this bill will have ANY standing, jurisdiction or effect on an Indian casino. Let’s review some of them:
Section 8: “…The commissioner of alcoholic beverages control commission shall establish a gaming liquor enforcement unit whose responsibilities shall include enforcing, regulating and controlling the distribution of alcoholic beverages in a gaming establishment…
- · This should read “Except for the set-aside Indian casino,” of course, because no state authority can regulate or review what goes on in an Indian casino… They will pay no state taxes or fees on liquor; they will have no restrictions whatsoever on who is sold liquor or at what times it is sold. Other than any self-imposed, self-regulated rules on this topic, anything goes. And, there will be nothing anyone in the local community or state can do about it.
Section 9: “… (b) There shall be in the department of the attorney general a division of gaming enforcement…. (c) The division shall enforce criminal violations of chapter 23K which shall include, but not be limited to: (1) investigating and prosecuting allegations of criminal activity related to or impacting the operations of gaming establishments or games; (2) receiving and taking appropriate action on referrals for criminal prosecution….
- · As with section 8, this should read “Except for the set-aside Indian casino” because, on Indian casinos we don’t need no stinkin’ badges – at least not from local or state law enforcement. Only the FBI can be called in, and only when a tribe violates its own constitution, to investigate and act on crimes committed on Indian lands in trust. So write down this number (617) 742-5533 – it’s for the FBI field office. Remember this when some minor is over served at an Indian casino and kills your child in a car accident. Good luck trying to sue Tribe for damages – they are untouchable in U.S. courts and by state or local law enforcement.
Section 15: …The colonel of state police shall establish a gaming enforcement unit the responsibilities of which shall include, but not be limited to, the investigation of criminal violations of chapter 23K or any other general or special law pertaining to gaming….
- · Need we repeat? Let’s just ask the State Police how much time and energy we can expect from the FBI – did you write down the number (617) 742-5533 - with all their homeland security and other duties… So, we’ll just have to live with whatever crime and corruption the Wampanoag’s happen to run across in their operation. Which, given their tribal leadership’s past convictions on such petty crimes as rape, embezzlement, making illegal campaign contributions and other campaign finance law violations, tax fraud, filing false tax returns, wire fraud, social security fraud, etc… should give us no pause to worry. If this were any organization other than an Indian tribe their past would immediately disqualify them from receiving a gaming license under this state scheme – yet another double standard.
Section 16:…. Chapter 23K, Section 1. (1) ensuring public confidence in the integrity of the gaming licensing process and in the strict oversight of all gaming establishments through a rigorous regulatory scheme… (2) establishing the financial stability and integrity of gaming licensee, as well as the integrity of their sources of financing… (3) gaming licensees shall be held to the highest standards of licensing… (6) promoting local small businesses… (9) any license awarded by the commission shall be a revocable privilege… (16) monitor the conduct of licensees and other persons have a material involvement, directly or indirectly, with a licensee.. (19) request and receive.. criminal and background investigations for the purposes of evaluating employees and applicants for employment by… any regulated entity… (20) be present, through its inspectors and agents, at all times, in gaming establishments for the purposes of: (i) certifying revenue; (ii) receiving complaints from the public… (iii) examining records of revenues and procedures and inspecting and auditing all books, documents and records of licensees… (22) inspect and have access to all equipment and supplies in a gaming establishment… (25) levy and collect assessments, fees and fines… (26) collect taxes and fees…
- · The list here is too long to bother detailing, suffice to say – nothing in this legislation will apply or be enforceable with an Indian casino. It won’t matter if we spend $5 million to negotiate a “compact” which mirrors these laws. Existing federal laws are crystal clear about the absolute independence from local laws, law enforcement, taxes, fees, zoning or rules as apply to Indian tribes and what happens in their lands-in-trust reservation casinos. The state WILL NOT be able to review their books, conduct background investigations on their employees, have inspectors onsite, audit their books, collect any taxes, fees or fins, or do anything about public complaints.
The special interest lobbyists for the Malaysian gaming syndicate behind the Wampanoags and the slot machine industry (Doug Rubin) who similarly benefit from additional unrestricted, non-taxed and no-license fees slot machine sales to Indian tribes (estimated to be worth between $200 and $300 million) won today. It’ll be up to the state legislature to see if this sticks.