Is a Casino Deal In The Works For Cape Wind? That’s one rumor floating around

A "casino for wind power" deal might be in the works for Cape Wind.

One of the obstacles standing in the way of Cape Wind’s 420-megawatt wind farm off Cape Cod is the Mashpee Wampanoag, whose tribal leaders say the $1 billion offshore facility and its 130 turbines would desecrate tribal burial sites.

But is a deal in the works? G.E.R. has learned that federal authorities could approve the Cape Wind project but in a consilatory move would also support the Mashpee Wampanoag’s plan to develop a casino. A spokeswoman for the Tribal Council declined to comment.

Just last week the Interior Department’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation released a negative report that said the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound would be “pervasive, destructive and… permanent.” Shortly after the release of that report, Cape Wind announced a supply deal with Siemens for 130 offshore wind turbines.

These days, gaming is a hot topic in Massachusetts.

The state legislature that would allow the state to sell casino licenses, potentially generating some $100 million in additional revenues. However, as a Federally-recognized tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag casino permitting process would largely be overseen by federal agencies, including the Interior Department’s (part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs). The Interior Department is also expected to rule on a federal permit for the Cape Wind project in the next few weeks.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe . Back in 2007 the council signed an agreement with the town of Middleboro, Mass., to develop a gambling facility on 539 acres of land in exchange for a $7 million annual payment and $250,000 in new infrastructure investments.

Town Manager Charles Cristello tells us that he still expects to get the casino despite local media reports that the tribe was looking elsewhere. Cristello recently wrote to the council inquiring about the status of the project but he has yet to hear back from them.

A spokesman with Governor Deval Patrick’s office and the BIA press office in Washington did not return calls seeking comments and clarifications.

Image: iStockphoto

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