Voters in Mass. city say ‘yes’ to tribal casino

Posted June 10, 2012, at 9:35 p.m.

TAUNTON, Mass. — The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe got a vote of confidence from Taunton residents as the tribe pushes forward with plans to develop a $500 million resort casino.

By a nearly 2-1 margin, voters in Saturday’s referendum expressed support for having a casino in their southeastern Massachusetts community, according to the Taunton clerk’s office.

While nonbinding, the 7,693-4,571 vote marks the first time local residents have expressed support for a casino project at the ballot box since Gov. Deval Patrick signed the state’s new gambling law last year.

The law legalized casino gambling, authorizing the state to license up to three resort-style casinos and giving exclusive rights to a federally recognized Indian tribe to develop one of the casinos if the tribe can reach a compact with the state by July 31. The Indian casino would have to be in southeastern Massachusetts.

Voters in the towns of Freetown and Lakeville recently gave a thumbs-down to a less detailed casino proposal offered by the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah.

“We are overwhelmed by this resounding victory in Taunton,” Tribal Council chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. “But let’s be clear. This is not just a victory for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, this is a victory for the future of this city, for every person looking for a good job, and for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Cromwell said the tribe will be back at work on Monday to finalize a compact with the governor on a project Cromwell said will create thousands of jobs and bring in millions in revenue. Patrick has said he expects negotiations on the compact will be completed by the summer deadline.

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