A path to the state's first tribal casino appears to be clearing faster than expected, but a potential lawsuit from an excluded tribe threatens to complicate or delay the process.
Hearings are to begin Wednesday on a bid by the Mashpee Wampanoag to put land in Taunton intended for a resort casino into federal trust. State officials including Governor Deval Patrick have also signaled that a compact is likely to be reached by a July 31 deadline.
By contrast, the Wampanoag Aquinnah has hit nothing but roadblocks in its casino quest.
The Martha's Vineyard-based tribe is weighing legal action against the state for refusing to enter into compact negotiations. The tribe disputes the state's long-held contention that it surrendered future rights to tribal gaming in a 1983 land settlement.