What on earth is Gov. Deval Patrick doing? As I and many other casino opponents have pointed out repeatedly, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe cannot open a full-fledged casino in Middleborough — or anywhere else — unless the state Legislature legalizes casino gambling.
Yet WBZ-TV (Channel 4) reports that Patrick is negotiating with the tribe in an attempt to strike a deal that will bring a casino to Middleborough. Unfortunately, casino opponents lost a bit of leverage last week, as federal officials backed away from a proposal to crack down on video bingo. The Mashpee would be able to build a bingo hall regardless of whether casino gambling is legal in Massachusetts.
But considerable obstacles remain. The tribe’s Middleborough application could well be rejected by the U.S. Department of Interior, as it seeks to allow a casino to be built on newly acquired property rather than traditional tribal land.
Moreover, the process followed by Middleborough town officials was a disgrace. Casino opponents could no doubt keep this tied up in court for years if they have the resources. It’s a shame they have to fight the governor, too.