Casino debate heats up with two in F.R.

Mass., R.I. lawmakers both debating gambling on Tuesday

Posted 6/8/10

FALL RIVER – Massachusetts’ other federally recognized Indian tribe plans to unveil its own proposal for a casino in Fall River on Tuesday as lawmakers there and in Rhode Island debate expanded gambling in the two states.

The Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe from the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard (formerly Gay Head) will propose building a resort casino on 240 acres of land near Interstate 195 in Fall River, The Enterprise of Brockton reported.

Meanwhile, Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan is set to speak before the Senate Ways and Means Committee in support of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s proposed casino development on a 300-acre parcel along Route 24 formerly planned for a biotechnology park. The city sold the land to the tribe last month.

The Aquinnah say their project, unlike the Mashpee tribe’s, would allow the city to have a casino while still using the other location for the South Coast BioPark.

Massachusetts Senate legislation is expected to allow one casino to be licensed in each of three zones in the state, according to the Springfield Republican. One of the three licenses would go to a tribe, while the other two would be put up for competitive bids.

In Rhode Island, the House Finance Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to hold a ballot referendum in November asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow Twin River in Lincoln and Newport Grand to become full-fledged casinos.

Voters in Lincoln and Newport would also have to approve allowing the venue in their town to convert itself into a casino.

The R.I. Supreme Court has ruled that a privately owned and operated casino cannot be built in the state unless voters approve an amendment allowing it. In 2006, voters rejected a proposed amendment that would have allowed the Narragansett Indian Tribe and Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. to open a casino in West Warwick.

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