Judge puts off ruling on requests to join casino lawsuit

Judge puts off ruling on requests to join casino lawsuit

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A federal court judge will not decide until March whether several interested parties, including the town of Aquinnah, will be permitted to intervene in a complex case involving would-be mainland casino developer KG Urban and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

KG Urban, a private casino developer that would build a casino in New Bedford, sued the state over legislative language in the newly approved gaming law that allowed the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to put a lock on the one commercial casino license designated for Southeastern Massachusetts.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association Inc., the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, and the town of Aquinnah have all proposed in motions to intervene to join the legal fray .

On Monday, all sides appeared at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission postponed a decision on whether to open up the southeastern region to commercial casino developers, giving the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe 90 more days to complete necessary steps toward the tribe’s pursuit of a casino license, according to the State House News Service.

The postponement sets back discussion until March 15 over whether the southeast, known as Region C, would be open to a “parallel track” for commercial developers, in addition to the effort undertaken by the Mashpee tribe, which hopes to build a casino on Taunton.

The November 2011 gaming law explicitly calls for up to three full casino licenses in Massachusetts, one for each of three regions. It set aside the southeast for an American Indian tribe license, if the tribe can negotiate a compact with Gov. Deval Patrick by July 31.

The Mashpee tribe and the governor signed a deal, and it was approved by the state legislature, but then the federal Department of the Interior rejected the agreement. The law allows the commission to seek commercial bids for the southeast region if the commission “determines” the federal government will not agree to take land into trust, a necessary step for the establishment of a tribe-run casino.