Greg Bialecki says Indian gaming is inevitable in Massachusetts if the state legalizes gambling. Governor Deval Patrick insists carving out the Southeastern corner of the Commonwealth is the only way to protect the state from this inevitability. Really?
Let’s put aside the fact the Mr. Bialecki has now defined “inevitable” as Mashpee Wampanoag-only gaming (by his and the governor’s initial rationale for including his set-aside preference language to legislators this bill should cover all the federally recognized tribes with any potential to someday get land in trust for a casino). And, let’s put aside the fact that current law, defined by a Supreme Court case (Carcieri v. Salazar) prohibits this from happening absent an act of Congress changing said law.
With all the Harvard law degrees in the Patrick Administration one would think they might at least have a cursory familiarity with the headline making news in other gaming states where Indian casino applications from federally recognized and eligible tribe are being summarily rejected by the Department of Interior. A minor legal impediment called the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and those administering it at the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs will determine whether or not any tribe will be granted land in trust for the purposes of casino and other developments.
A key provision under IGRA is that the governor of a state has veto power over the land into trust acquisition. If Governor Patrick or any future governor views Indian gaming as a risk from which we need to be protected he has the power to prevent it in Massachusetts.
Sec. 2719. Gaming on lands acquired after October 17, 1988: The Secretary, after consultation with the Indian tribe and appropriate State and local officials, including officials of other nearby Indian tribes, determines that a gaming establishment on newly acquired lands would be in the best interest of the Indian tribe and its members, and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community, but only if the Governor of the State in which the gaming activity is to be conducted concurs in the Secretary's determination.
The Governor clearly has some other agenda in mind and it doesn’t include the people’s interest. Legislators from Southeastern Massachusetts “the surrounding community” oppose an unregulated, tax-exempt Indian casino complex and other regional tribes oppose the Mashpee-only plan. Other IGRA requirements for allowing new lands in trust for Indian gaming include having BOTH a modern and historical connection to proposed casino site.
Let’s see how BIA and the courts have dealt with a few recent applications, after years of review and administrative procedures that our local band of would be casino kingpins in Mashpee will just begin if the Governor’s legislation is passed:
· September 2011 – Guidiville Pomono Tribe casino plans for Richmond, CA – REJECTED. (Reasons: lack of support of the California Governor, lack of both historical AND MODERN connection to proposed site, opposition from other tribes.)
· September 2011 – Jemez Pueblo Tribe casino plans for Anthony, NM – REJECTED. (Reasons: distance from tribe and opposition from other tribes in proximity)
· August 2011 – Tenth Circuit affirms BIA rejection of Miami Tribe casino plans for Kansas City, MO – REJECTED. (Reasons: concerns over fractionation of land and long range interests of landowners.)
· February 2011 – Stockbridge-Munsee Mohegan Tribe casino plan for Bridgeville, NY – REJECTED (Reasons: viability of proposal and lack of ability to legally take land in trust under current law)
How do we think the administrators at IGRA will feel about the Masphee Wampanoag tribe application?
· Ability to govern? Hmm, history of tribal leadership convictions on fraud, corruption and other nefarious charges. Financial backing from a foreign gambling syndicate with ties to Chinese Triad organized crime. Might not be a good resume for good government.
· Modern connection to proposed site? Even the current Mashpee tribe chairman Cedric Cromwell lacks a modern connection to Mashpee, what possible current day connections can the Mashpee claim to Raynham, Middleboro, Foxboro, Fall River or the other “off reservation” (if they even had a reservation) sites they have planned?
· Economic impact on and support of other tribes? We already know the Rhode Island Narragansett tribe has plans for neighboring Twin Rivers and will oppose. The Aquinnah Wampanoag are asserting their rights (and they are the only federally recognized tribe in Massachusetts with land in trust on which they could legitimately argue for a right to gaming). Of course the Mohegan’s who want another casino in Palmer, MA will not want Mashpee competition. The Pequots at Foxwoods will have their say. Doesn’t look good on that front either.