TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) - On the eve of a key legislative hearing, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe unveiled a new design on Tuesday for the $500 million resort casino it hopes to build if the tribe succeeds in getting state and federal approvals for the project.
The detailed architectural renderings were released at a meeting of the Taunton City Council on Tuesday. They revealed an S-shaped design for the hotel and casino, replacing earlier sketches that showed an L-shaped structure.
The hotel appears to be about 15 stories high and is connected to several low-rise structures, including a parking garage.
The Mashpee face several obstacles to developing the proposed casino, but tribal leaders remain confident that they will clear the hurdles and break ground on the project as early as next year.
On Wednesday, a House panel will hold a hearing on a revised casino compact between the tribe and Gov. Deval Patrick. The agreement, if approved by lawmakers, would replace an earlier compact that was rejected by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The initial compact was approved by a wide margin in the Legislature last year but there are indications the new pact could face tougher scrutiny. It calls for the tribe to pay a smaller percentage of gambling proceeds to the state than under the original agreement.
The tribe recently sustained another setback when the state gambling commission voted to allow commercial developers to bid for casino licenses in the southeastern region, ending the exclusivity the Mashpee had previously enjoyed under the state's 2011 casino law.
The tribe has said it would continue to pursue a casino in Taunton even if the commission awards a license to another developer, creating the possibility that there would eventually be four casinos in Massachusetts, rather than the three that were called for in the law.