Get the Facts
Why is the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe building a destination resort casino in Taunton?
The Wampanoag have lived in Southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. Originally called “Cohannut,” Taunton is a part of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s ancestral homeland (History page). Taunton is included in the area of the state designated by the Governor as appropriate for a casino to be developed and operated by a federally recognized tribe.
Who are the Tribe’s financial investors?
The Tribe is backed by the Genting Group, a Malaysian based development group that has opened first-class resort casinos around the globe including the Mashantucket Pequot’s Foxwoods Casino and the newer Aqueduct Casino in Queens, NY.
Does the City of Taunton want a casino from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe?
Yes! The City overwhelmingly voted to approve the destination resort casino through a city-wide referendum held on June 9, 2012. 63% of the citizens of Taunton voted in support of the project.
What does the project look like?
According to the Project First Light website:
- The project is a dynamic, high-concept 150,000 square foot casino featuring 3,000 slots, 150 gaming tables, and 40 poker tables.
- The architectural design was carefully planned to reflect natural forms while being highly functional and environmentally conscious, enhanced with artful landscaping.
- The project will include both a food court and international buffet, as well as two fine dining restaurants, center bar with lounge and stage, and 24-hour café.
- 10 retail-shopping destinations will be included.
- Ample parking with 3,000 garage spaces and an additional 1,140 surface spaces.
- Sumptuous 300-room luxury hotel spa, large pool, roof terrace, and 6 event/meeting spaces.
- Well-appointed 300-room mid-range hotel with its own 200-seat 24-hour restaurant and 15,000 square foot event center.
- Splashy 300-room family “water park” hotel with a 25,000 square foot indoor/outdoor water park and an additional 500 surface parking spaces.
Check out renderings of the project here! [gallery of project renderings]
What has happened so far?
- The referendum to approve the destination resort casino took place on June 9, 2012. The citizens of Taunton overwhelmingly approved the project with 63% of residents voting in support.
- The Tribe and the City of Taunton negotiated and executed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on May 17, 2012. The IGA seeks to issue the City a minimum of $8million per year in payments in lieu of taxes and mitigation.
- An initial $1.5million payment required by the IGA was made to the City in August 2012.
- Public hearings for the MEPA and NEPA processes were held in the summer of 2012 and December 2013.
- The Tribe and the Commonwealth negotiated a compact, which was signed by Governor Deval Patrick, approved by the state legislature and then deemed approved by the Department of the Interior in 2013.
- The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process was completedin November 2014.
- The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) process was completed in January 2015.
- The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe received their reservation proclamation in December 2015.
How much revenue will the city of Taunton gain from the resort casino?
The distribution of revenue is based off of both direct and indirect sources of revenue. The InterGovernmental agreement, negotiated between the Tribe and City, allocates a minimum of $8 million per year to be paid to the City in both payments in lieu of taxes and mitigation payments. A total of $102 million in wages to workers in the City of Taunton will be generated through the creation of jobs from the project. In addition, monetary impacts will come through the utilization of local businesses and the influx of casino patrons to the community.
Will there be jobs created from the project?
Yes! In fact, nearly 7,000 jobs will be created from the casino. Read more about jobs and the impact on the local and regional economy here [Economics].
What about traffic impacts on Taunton?
The Tribe has agreed to a $30 million traffic improvement plan. This plan was developed by a team of engineers in conjunction with MassDOT with input from the community at large. The resulting plan improves dangerous and inefficient intersections, widens Highway 24 and provides direct inbound access from Hwy 24 directly to the casino. The traffic design plan mitigates the impact of casino traffic in the surrounding community, including schools and churches, by prohibiting tractor trailer and other vehicle traffic from making a left turn when leaving the casino on Stevens Street and improving intersections such as Hart’s Four Corner.
What are the overall benefits to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?
The Tribal-State gaming compact will provide $2.1 billion to the Commonwealth for economic development, education, transportation, tourism and other priorities. In addition, over $300 million in mitigation funds will be available to Southeastern Massachusetts communities. Not to mention, tens of millions more will be spent for goods and services throughout Southeastern Mass!