Southeastern Mass. region opens next week to commercial casino applicants

Starting next week, commercial casino developers interested in winning a license in Southeastern Massachusetts will finally get their chance to apply, when the state gambling commission begins accepting initial applications and fees for a gambling resort proposal in the region.

The initial application period will close Sept. 30, according to the commission.

How intense the competition will be in the southeast remains to be seen.

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Developers interested in the region must keep one eye on the Mashpee Wampanoag, which continues to pursue federal approval for a tribal casino in Taunton.

Skeptics say the tribe is at least years away from securing eligible land to build a tribal gambling business—which may only be built on sovereign Indian land.

The tribe maintains it is making historic progress and will have its land issues solved by next year.

If the tribe is right, there may never be a commercial casino in the southeast. If the Mashpee show significant progress over the next year or so and seem on their way to building a tribal casino under the federal process, the commission is not obligated to award the commercial license.

(It is an often-repeated myth that the commission would “give the tribe the southeast license” if the Mashpee make progress on getting land. Tribal casinos don’t need state licenses. If the tribe is successful at developing a casino under federal law, the commission may sit on the southeast commercial license and never issue it, allowing the tribal facility to be the only casino in the southeast region.)