Buried deep in the state gambling commission’s meeting agenda for Thursday is a little item with the potential to trigger a second Bay State land rush by casino companies with dollar signs in their eyes.
The commission is going to talk about whether it’s time to open Southeastern Massachusetts to commercial casino development. We might even get a decision that day.
Not every gambling commission meeting is so obviously more attractive than visiting the dentist, but this one should be — the ramifications are so enormous that I postponed some dental work schedule for that morning.
As most people following the issue know by now, state law delays commercial casino development in the southeast so the Mashpee Wampanoag can make progress on a tribal casino in Taunton. The tribe is seeking development rights through a federal process, over which the state commission has no control.
But as much as the Mashpee insist they are on the cusp of realizing some critical federal action on their plans, there is a lot of skepticism over whether the tribe will soon—or ever—be able to break ground in Taunton.
The tribe wants to keep the region clear of commerical competitors. If the commission decides to accept bids from commercial developers in the southeast, expect the Mashpee to sue the state.
If the commission doesn’t open the region—well, the state is already being sued over that.