President Donald Trump Tweets Opposition to Tribal Casino Bill Backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Posted on: May 8, 2019, 11:48h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2019, 11:48h.

A congressional tribal casino bill in the US House of Representatives won’t have the support of President Donald Trump should the legislation reach his Oval Office desk.

tribal casino bill Warren Trump
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wants a tribal casino bill passed through Congress, but she’s again finding opposition by way of the president. (Image: CBS Boston)

House Bill 312 – introduced by Rep. Bill Keating (D-Massachusetts) in January that has the public backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) – would return two parcels of land in Taunton and Mashpee to the state’s Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and designate the combined 321 acres as sovereign territory.

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) revoked the land last fall after the agency agreed with the Supreme Court that it had erred in designating the acres as sovereign.

Republicans shouldn’t vote for HR 312, a special interest casino bill backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” the president opined.

The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot designate land sovereign for tribes recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was federally recognized in 2007.

Bill Yanked

The Massachusetts Native American tribe wants to build a $1 billion casino resort in Taunton. The plans called for a gaming floor offering 3,000 slot machines and 150 table games, three hotels, entertainment space, water park, and retail shopping. The project was to be built in conjunction with Malaysia-based casino and hospitality giant Genting Group.

The Supreme Court decision and subsequent land revocation by the DOI has stalled those plans for years. Massachusetts’ congressional delegation has taken it into their hands to bypass the DOI by introducing federal legislation that would authorize the tribal resort.

HR 312’s wording says the DOI’s response to the Supreme Court decision “shall be promptly dismissed,” and the land be “ratified and confirmed” as sovereign grounds. Following the president’s tweet, House Democrats decided to delay a vote on the legislation in anticipation that many GOP representatives would abide by Trump’s message.

Trump Influence

Lawmakers and casino operators in nearby states are concerned regarding the impact the $1 billion tribal resort might have on their gaming operations. Taunton is located in the southeast section of Massachusetts just miles from the Rhode Island border.

Trump critics believe his staunch opposition to HR 312 isn’t simply because of his ongoing feud with Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate. The president’s opponents say Matt Schlapp – a presidential advisor and lobbyist working on behalf of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, the only licensed casino operator in Rhode Island – has successfully convinced his White House pal to reject the tribal casino bill.

Rhode Island isn’t the only state closely monitoring the Taunton casino process. Massachusetts gaming regulators continue to delay approving a third and final full casino resort license for Region C, which encompasses the southeastern region.

Should the Mashpee Wampanoags obtain approval for the casino, the area would become oversaturated with gaming. Both of Twin River’s casinos are located just across the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border, and the Plainridge Park slots venue in Massachusetts is located just 15 miles north of Taunton.