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BOSTON-Massachusetts’ only federally recognized tribe will meet with officials from Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration within the next month to discuss the possibility of constructing a destination casino on tribal lands should the state legalize gambling, a tribal representative tells GlobeSt.com. A spokesman for the tribe says officials from the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe of Mashpee plan to discuss the casino proposal with members of a state task force being launched by the Governor to study the pros and cons of gambling.

“If Class 3 gaming is allowed, they feel the best facility would be a casino along the lines of the Mohegan Sun,” the spokesman says, referring to the 300,000-sf gaming venue developed by the Mohegan tribe in Uncasville, CT.

Although a location for the Wampanoag project has not yet been selected, the spokesman says the proposed resort-style casino would be located on tribal lands and would include a mix of restaurants, retail shops and a hotel. The tribe has agreed not to build the project in Cape Cod but will negotiate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take land in southwestern Massachusetts for the project.

“They believe themselves to be very strong stewards of the environment and want any facility to be reflective of those values,” he notes, adding that the tribe also “wants to locate in a community where they would be welcome.”

The Wampanoag are a recognized tribe on Martha’s Vineyard but are not formally recognized by the federal government as a tribe in Mashpee. That should happen next month, however, he says. Receiving that designation would give the tribe the right to build a casino on tribal property if gambling is legalized.

Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Dan O’Connell, who will head the task force, says in a statement that the group will take a serious look at the effect of gaming on the Bay State before moving ahead to legalize gambling.

“Public health and safety issues not withstanding, the real question here is: will there be a true economic benefit to the state,” O’Connell says. “We must have that assurance to move forward.”

The task force will study the gaming issue for about six months before bringing its findings to the governor.

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