The Gaming Authority of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has asked for a gathering with the Taunton City Council to dismiss a proposal for a fresh development associated with the suggested First Light Resort and Casino. The construction of the $1-billion casino resort was paused soon after the developers broke ground in 2016 because the project’s opponents managed to win the first series in a prolonged legal battle.
In a letter sent to the City Council on August 4th, Jim Erenzo, the CFO of the Mashpanoag tribe’s Gaming Authority, addressed the casino and resort project in Taunton as the “IGA project”. According to him, the tribe remains ready to proceed with the development of new economic opportunities in Taunton even though there have been some delays on the way.
Mr. Erenzo believes that the new interim project will affect the casino project’s scope and timing. He further noted that the interim project is set to create hundreds of new jobs, both during the construction works and on a permanent basis, with their number expected to increase in the future transition from an original temporary project to the initially planned Intergovernmental Agreement Project.
Mayor Shaunna O’Connell’s office confirmed that some Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Gaming Authority representatives will meet the Taunton City Council but the date has not been determined yet.
Legal Battles Mark the Way of the Taunton Casino Resort
Now, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is unveiling proposals about changing the scope of the aforementioned casino project. It is unclear what exactly that means but at the time of the groundbreaking ceremony of 2016, the tribe revealed that the First Light Resort and Casino would feature 150 table games, 40 poker tables, 3,000 slot machines, 9 retail stores, 5 meeting rooms, three 15-story luxury hotels featuring 300 rooms, indoor pool, a number of fine dining restaurants and a 24-hour cafe, lounge and performance stage, spa and water park.
Hundreds of acres of land in Taunton and Mashpee were placed into a projected trust in 2015 by the US Department of the Interior. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe then broke ground in 2016 on the First Resort and Casino situated in East Taunton.
Then, legal action asserting that the land in question could not be put into trust was brought by a group of neighbors against the East Taunton casino. The US District Court sided with the group of residents, with the ruling eventually stalling casino construction and sending the case back to the US Department of the Interior. Then, in 2018, the Department of the Interior, the new administration of former President Trump, reversed itself, saying that the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe did not qualify for putting the land into trust and argued the tribe was not under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government back in 1934.
Further appeals and litigation followed.