The week ahead could be crucial for the casino process in southeastern Massachusetts.

    Gov. Deval Patrick and the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe say they have an agreement in principle on a new compact that could be signed in the coming days and help jumpstart the tribe's proposal to build a resort casino in Taunton.

    A compact signed last year was later rejected by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. Patrick says he has already vetted the major points of the revised deal with federal officials.

    Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has scheduled a hearing for Thursday in Fall River as it considers whether to allow commercial developers to bid for the sole resort casino license in the southeastern region.

    The state's 2011 casino law gave first preference in the region to a federally-recognized Indian tribe.  (Associated Press)