The Commonwealth of Massachusetts would lose $28 million a year in gaming revenue if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission issues a license for a fourth casino in Brockton, less than 20 miles away from where the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is building a billion dollar resort casino in Taunton.
That’s according to a new analysis done by Spectrum Gaming Group – the same industry experts called on by state lawmakers when they were crafting the Expanded Gaming Act of 2011 to ensure the law would prevent the state’s casino market from becoming over-saturated. The Spectrum Group was also tapped by the state Gaming Commission to advise the regulatory board on its policies and procedures.
As the tribe prepares to break ground on First Light Resort & Casino in April, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is considering whether to issue a fourth casino license in a region state lawmakers intended to be the exclusive domain for a tribal casino.
According to the tribe-state compact, ratified by the State Legislature in 2013, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe would pay the Commonwealth 17 percent of its gaming revenues annually as long as the tribal casino was the only casino in southeastern Massachusetts (Region C). However, should the state Gaming Commission issue a license in Region C for the Brockton proposal, the Tribe would not pay any of its gaming revenue to the state.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 grants federally-recognized tribes the right to build gaming facilities on tribal land as a means to fund tribal governments and develop tribal economies.
The Spectrum Gaming Group took up the question of whether the Commonwealth would be better off with just the tribal casino in Taunton or with both a casino in Taunton and Brockton.
The detailed analysis concluded with three key findings. A tribal casino-only would:
- Provide needed certainty in a market that has long been roiled by uncertainty
- Encourage a business model with broader demographic appeal
- Generate more gaming-tax revenue for the Commonwealth
“The Commonwealth would realize $28 million less in gaming-tax receipts with both a Taunton and Brockton casino than with a Taunton casino alone because there would be no revenue-share from the Taunton casino,” according to the report.
“The presence of the two additional casinos would also lead to further revenue declines at other, competing properties in the state,” the report concludes.
The new report is consistent with the Spectrum Gaming Group’s 2008 analysis, which warned that two casinos in Region C would have “potentially disastrous effects on commercial casinos in the Commonwealth.”
At today’s state Gaming Commission meeting, proponents of a casino in Brockton once again tried to raise doubts about the economics, as well as the validity of the tribe-state compact, the status of tribal lands, and details of First Light Resort & Casino.
“Today’s presentation to the Gaming Commission was clearly a desperate attempt to spread falsehoods and designed to create confusion over our plans. To even suggest that the tribe-state compact is not a valid agreement is a complete and total fiction,” said Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell.
“The Spectrum Gaming Group comprises the most credible analysts in the industry, which is why state lawmakers commissioned them to provide the economic framework for the Expanded Gaming Act and why the Gaming Commission hired them as consultants,” Chairman Cromwell said.
“To issue a license in Region C would not only add to the sordid history of broken promises to my people, but would jeopardize the economic model upon which the state’s Expanded Gaming Act was built,” Chairman Cromwell added.
Meanwhile, tribal leaders have unveiled the final design and construction schedule for First Light Resort & Casino with a ground-breaking set for April 5. The construction schedule calls for a large portion of the casino to be open for business by the summer of 2017.
Sean Gonsalves, Regan Communications
(508) 420-5566 ext. 118 (o) (617) 308-8393 (c)