[RICHARD] How Does The Vineyard Get A Casino Before New Bedford Does?
Massachusetts spins the wheel on casino gaming and everyone wins but us.
In case you missed it, a federal appeals court has decided that the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head can in fact open a gaming facility in the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. The decision overturns a lower court ruling against the tribe. I won’t bore you with the particulars of the decision but will say it means that just about every corner of the state will benefit from gaming but us.
The Aquinnah, who years ago came close to winning approval for a casino in New Bedford, has plans for a 300 machine “electronic bingo hall,” that could employee as many as 100 people.
With casino construction underway in Springfield and Everett and a slots parlor already operating in Plainfield it seems Massachusetts is about to become a real player in the gaming realm. Keep in mind Twin River is close to opening a casino in Tiverton, right on the Fall River line. Voters last Fall approved an initiative to license a second slots parlor at some point.
Talk of legalizing gaming in Massachusetts first surfaced here in New Bedford more than 50 years ago but the legislature wouldn’t hear of it then. These are the same clowns that wouldn’t even allow stores to open on Sunday back in the day. And then the epiphany. Gaming equals revenue and that trumps morals any day. Took a while but they figured it out.
Eventually, legislation would pass that would allow for up to three commercial casino licenses. Of course Southeastern Massachusetts wouldn’t just automatically get one of those licenses. Then Governor Deval Patrick insisted that the law would be written to give preferential treatment to the Mashpee Wampanoag in our region. But, Patrick, being an attorney, knew the Mashpee could never get land into federal trust to make that happen. For a short while it appeared the tribe might have a chance in Taunton but that didn’t last long. No other region had such a restriction.
Fearing the tribe might eventually win approval, the major casino investors steered clear of our region and the potential competition. As a result, when the commercial license was finally put out to bid there was no interest.
So, while Boston and Springfield and Plainfield …and perhaps even The Vineyard all enjoy the benefits of casino gaming, New Bedford will not. Oh well, maybe next time. In the meantime there is always Tiverton and the Vineyard isn’t that far away.
By the way, did I mention that our legislative delegation voted in favor of Deval Patrick’s gaming bill? It did.