The hard-luck cities along the state’s South Coast are used to being on the losing side of casino wrangling. The region was repeatedly steamrolled when Beacon Hill leadership demanded that legislators oppose gambling, and the new era of legalized gambling has been no kinder. Lawmakers sold gambling as a jobs creator, but in the state’s southeastern region, Beacon Hill has tied casino jobs to the vagaries of a legally dubious Indian gaming regime. As a result, the region with the state’s highest unemployment rate, and with the greatest appetite for a casino, is getting left behind.
Last week, federal officials rejected the gambling compact Governor Deval Patrick negotiated with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, saying the compact would have taxed tribal gambling revenues at an excessive rate. It’s a sign of things to come. Massachusetts built its casino deal with the Mashpee on magical thinking. The compact, an agreement setting the terms for tribal gambling in the state, is the easy part, and Beacon Hill couldn’t even pull that off.