Gaming Commission faces its toughest decision

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, facing perhaps its toughest decision ever, is being urged by two newspapers to give deference to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe as the agency decides whether to award a casino license in southeastern Massachusetts.

An editorial in the MetroWest Daily News ignores all the complexities of the situation and urges the Gaming Commission to support the tribe’s plan to open a casino in Taunton by refusing to award a commercial license to backers of a Brockton casino. “Given the debt Massachusetts owes to the Wampanoags, that only seems right,” the editorial said.

The Boston Globe digs into some of the complexities facing the Gaming Commission, noting that potential legal challenges to the tribe’s bid to take land into trust could take a long time to resolve and may ultimately be successful. So by standing by the tribe and not approving a commercial casino license for the Brockton applicants, the state could be left with no casino in southeastern Massachusetts.

“That is a risk, for sure — the commission has no zero-risk options in the southeastern region — but it’s better for the commission to err on the side of caution,” the editorial said, suggesting the Brockton casino bid should be put on hold. But then the paper walked back its position a bit, urging the Gaming Commission to award a commercial license in Brockton “only if it concludes a tribal casino is unlikely.”

That’s the billion-dollar question. The federal government’s ability to take land into trust for Indian tribes has been murky ever since the US Supreme Court ruled against the Narragansett tribe in Rhode Island in 2009. The court held that the US government could take land into trust only for tribes under federal jurisdiction as of 1934. In its decision regarding the Mashpee tribe, which was officially recognized in 2007, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs sidestepped the federal jurisdiction issue, devoting 40 pages of its 140-page ruling to an alternative legal theory.

A lot is at stake. Taunton and Brockton both want casinos and the jobs and tax revenue they could bring. The Gaming Commission probably would prefer only one casino is built in the region to avoid saturating the market. Under the state’s deal with the Mashpee, the tribe would pay 17 percent of its gaming revenue to the state if it is the only casino operator in the region. If another casino opens, the tribe doesn’t have to pay anything to the state.

If the Gaming Commission goes with Brockton, the agency would get a casino built in southeastern Massachusetts faster but run the risk of ending up with two gambling palaces competing against each other. One of them (the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe) would be under no obligation to pay taxes to the state. If the Gaming Commission waits to see what happens in Taunton, it could end up with no casino at all in the region.

For now, the Globe and the MetroWest Daily News, neither of which is located in southeastern Massachusetts, favor the tribe’s position.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker announced plans to revamp procedures at the troubled Department of Children and Families with the singular focus on rules that will “keep kids safe.” (Boston Globe) The governor partners up with the SEIU union chapter representing most of the workers at DCF. (State House News)

The Senate takes up anti-addiction legislation this week. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

With rents and home values in Quincy on the rise, a city councilor is proposing to eliminate the exemption for downtown developers to bypass the affordable housing ordinance and require them to make at least 10 percent of their new units affordable. (Patriot Ledger)

A major sporting spectacle in Boston. The potential for costs that must be covered by public dollars. Boston 2024? Nope. The Boston Grand Prix car race through the city’s downtown streets that the Walsh administration quietly approved with little scrutiny or public temperature taking. (Boston Herald)

Springfield is thinking about making a pitch for the PawSox, and Worcester is also considering getting into the game after Providence bows out of the quest to host the Red Sox AAA affiliate. (MassLive)

Worcester police investigate the sudden death of a 2-year-old. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Work fast: House Democrats say they see an opening to work on some issues with lame-duck Speaker John Boehner, now unburdened by the need to appease the GOP right, before he leaves office at the end of October. (Boston Globe) Meanwhile, the Senate passes a stopgap federal spending bill (Time) and Sen. Ted Cruz continues to alienate his colleagues. (Politico)

US Rep. Katherine Clark moves up the leadership ladder, taking the job of senior whip. CommonWealth examined Clark’s Washington political maneuverings in its summer print issue.

Former labor secretary and one-time Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich says the new divide in US politics is between the establishment and antiestablishment. (Boston Globe).

Local activists praise Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute on Black Lives Matter. (WBUR)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he might support a hike in the state gas tax as long as it was accompanied by reductions in other taxes. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

What might it take for Marty to heart Hillary, asks Joan Vennochi. (Boston Globe)

The two candidates knocked out in the preliminary have thrown their support behind former mayor William Phelan in his race against Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch. (Patriot Ledger)

New Bedford mayoral candidate Maria Giesta has returned a campaign donation to convicted crime boss Timothy “Timmy the Bat” Mello after learning of his past. (Standard-Times)

Donald Trump rolls out a tax plan that draws mostly from the Republican playbook with big cuts for corporations and high earners, along with reductions for some at the lower earnings end. (Boston Globe)

Chris Dempsey, who helped lead the No Boston Olympics effort, doesn’t rule out a run for political office. (Boston Business Journal)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A former teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind who left to design adaptive instruments to aid disabled children is among the 24 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants. Other recipients this year include a Boston Children’s Hospital neurosurgeon, an MIT economist, and a Harvard sociologist. (Chronicle of Philanthropy) The Boston Business Journal provides synopses of their work.

Lyft unveils its Boston-area carpooling service to compete with UberPool. (Boston Herald)

Apple sold a record 13 million iPhone 6s during its first weekend of sales, fueled in part by introducing the new device in China for the initial sales. (New York Times)

Beginning Thursday, consumers will have to “dip” their credit cards rather than swipe them to enable the device to read the embedded fraud-protection chip and those retailers without the technology could be liable for fraudulent purchases. (New York Times)

Burials at sea are increasing in popularity as an alternative to traditional burials because of cost, love of the ocean, environmental concerns, or moving away from religious ceremonies. (The Enterprise)

Gas could fall below $2 a gallon by the end of the year. (Boston Herald)

EDUCATION

Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter approved the transfer of $1.6 million from the nearly $4 million the city holds in “free cash” to bring the schools close to the required net spending level. (Herald News)

Harvard Medical School is considering loosening some conflict-of-interest rules put in place five years ago.

Brown University rescinds an honorary degree it gave to Bill Cosby. (CNN)

So you want to be an elementary school principal? The Christian Science Monitor explains why it’s not for the faint of heart.

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts General Hospital agrees to pay a $2.3 million fine for lax oversight that allowed employees to steal drugs for personal use. (Boston Business Journal)

A report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says malaria can be eradicated worldwide in the next 25 years with more investment. (U.S. News & World Report)

Forget the talk to eat butter and burgers to your heart’s content. A new study says the Mediterranean diet recommendation for heart healthiness is right — fish, nuts, and vegetables cooked with olive oil. (Boston Globe/Stat)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA has begun releasing weekly performance statistics (if you dare to look). (Boston Globe)

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are working to come up with a tax break-transportation infrastructure investment package (Politico)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

An Eagle-Tribune editorial laments the way environmentalists are pushing to create a marine national monument at Cashes Ledge just south of Georges Bank without consulting with fishermen and other interested parties.

Paul Levy wishes Vivian Li well as she prepares to leave her job at the Boston Harbor Association and head to Pittsburgh for a new assignment.

SCIENCE

Matt Damon may not be the only life on Mars. (New York Times)

MEDIA

Big layoffs and a digital shift at the New York Daily News has many wondering whether the feisty local tabloid will stop being feisty and local. (New York Times)

German media company Axel Springer buys 88 percent of Business Insider for $343 million. (Bloomberg)

Trevor Noah makes his debut on the Daily Show. Reviews are mixed. (Time)