Local tribe announces plans for Taunton casino

By: Rebecca Turco
Email: rturco@abc6.com

TAUNTON – The path is clearing for a multi-million dollar resort casino in Taunton.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe now has federal land approval of 150 acres of land there, after their Land in Trust application was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The bureau also approved 170 acres of land in Mashpee.

On Monday, the tribal council officially announced its comprehensive plans for a 150,000 sq. ft. casino, complete with three hotels, restaurants, parking garage and family water park. The casino would feature 3,000 slots, 40 poker tables and 150 table games. 

During a 2012 referendum, nearly two to one residents voted in favor of a casino. A statistic that shone through when ABC6 News polled locals about the decision Monday. "As long as people are responsible with gambling, I think it’s a good idea," said Blanche Ryan of Taunton, who goes to Plainridge Casino about once a week. She said it would be an easier commute.

"I am all for it, 100 percent," said Taunton resident Rick Menoche. "It [would] create a lot of jobs."

More than 2,650 permanent jobs and careers within two years, to be exact, according to tribe officials. Plus, 1,000 union construction and related support jobs.

The casino is estimated to bring the region $140 million in direct and indirect economic benefit to Taunton and the region each year. 

As part of the tribe’s agreement with the city, more than 20 new police officers will be hired, as well as a police substation. 

Infrastructure improvements are also in the proposal. There are plans to widen Route 140 in both directions, as well as adding an off-ramp to 140 Northbound at the interchange of Route 20 and 140. All in all, there will be more than $30 million dollars worth of improvements to more than 15 different intersections in Taunton, according to officials.

"This is a win as far as infrastructure," said Mayor Thomas Hoye, Jr.

It isn’t a win for everybody, however. Some locals are outright opposed to this project. Douglas Reed of Taunton acknowledged the pros and cons. "I think it would create jobs but it [would] also bring in some crime," he explained. "You’re always going to get that."

The tribal council has to go over its plans with the city and with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission more before the project can get the greenlight. If all goes well, the council hopes construction can begin in Spring 2016.

(c) WLNE-TV 2015