Federal officials have effectively approved a compact between the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and the state laying out a revenue deal for a proposed tribal casino in Taunton, but the future of the project remains uncertain.
Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the US Department of the Interior, said in an e-mail Friday that the deal “has been deemed approved by operation of law” under a federal statute governing tribal casinos. Such a step “is not uncommon,” Darling wrote.
The compact calls for the tribe to pay the state up to 21 percent of its gambling revenue, though a range of 15 to 17 percent is more likely. But even with the deal’s approval, the Interior Department still must place the proposed casino site into federal trust before a tribal gaming facility can open there.
Cedric Cromwell, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag, said Friday that the tribe expects to have its trust application approved by next summer, a claim that was met by skepticism in some quarters.
“Today’s a very exciting and important day for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe,” Cromwell said by phone. “We’re excited about putting the shovel in the ground in 2014.”
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