Leadership of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and Governor Deval Patrick defended the terms of the tribe’s casino compact with the state Monday as fair to both sides, despite the high take of tribal gambling profits the agreement would give the state.
Patrick signed the compact at a brief ceremony in his State House office, in the presence of Mashpee Wampanoag leaders and members of the tribe, which is proposing to build a gambling resort in Taunton.
The compact, having won legislative approval, will undergo a review by the US Department of the Interior, which will scrutinize the deal to ensure that the tribe gets fair value in exchange for paying the state 21.5 percent of its gambling revenue.
“This is a fair deal for the Commonwealth and for the tribe,” Patrick said in brief remarks before signing the document. “As tough as negotiations always are, we have emerged from this process as friends.”
The deal was the product of “good faith negotiations,” said the tribe’s chairman, Cedric Cromwell. “This is a monumental, historical day.”
The Globe reported Sunday that the state’s relatively large share of tribal profits could jeopardize approval of the deal by the Department of the Interior. States cannot tax tribal casinos, and tribes may only trade revenue to the state in exchange for concessions of proportionate value. Normally, states will offer exclusive rights for a tribe to host gambling without commercial competition statewide or in a geographic region.
The Mashpee’s compact offers some exclusivity in Southeastern Massachusetts, but does not protect the tribe from competition from a commercial slot parlor and would require the tribe to pay 15 percent of its revenue if the state allowed a commercial resort casino in the tribe’s region.
Tribal leaders said Monday that the compact includes other features extremely important to the tribe, such as Patrick’s promise to hold talks to clarify hunting and fishing rights.