As the Mashpee Wampanoag methodically cross items off the checklist they hope will lead to state sanction for an Indian casino in East Taunton, a time bomb ticks ominously in the background.
Acquire property? Done.
Conduct a referendum vote in the host community? Accomplished.
Negotiate a compact with the governor? On track, according to the state officials.
Convince the state Gaming Commission that land on which the casino would operate will be taken into trust by the federal Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs? Not so fast.
That’s where the process breaks down, according to a team of legal experts pulled together by KG Urban Enterprises of New York, which hopes to develop a casino at the site of the abandoned Cannon Street power plant in New Bedford. KG Urban brought its legal team to the SouthCoast last week, meeting with The Standard-Times Editorial Board.
“You can go through the whole process, but when you get to the end of it, the law of the land says they cannot” take land into trust, said Marsha Sajer, a lawyer who specializes in Indian gaming. “It’s all going to come down to land-into-trust and will that land be approved for gaming, which is not going to happen under Carcieri.”