- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) - The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe says it plans to open a resort casino south of Boston by 2017, nearly one year earlier than rivals Wynn and MGM.

The Cape Cod-based tribe made the announcement and revealed updated casino designs Monday ahead of a planned April 5 groundbreaking.

The $500 million First Light Casino, which the tribe is developing along with Malaysia-based Genting Group, is proposed in four phases.

By next summer, the first phase - the casino, restaurants, entertainment and retail offerings - should be open. Other phases, such as three proposed hotels, a parking garage and a water park, will be built out through 2022, according to a tribe spokesman.

The new casino designs show two rectangular glass hotel towers, a low-slung casino building and a parking garage. They also show a stylized wetu, a type of traditional Wampanoag home, at the casino’s main entry.



The third hotel and the water park weren’t shown in the renderings, which focused on the main complex. Earlier designs of the project, which was first proposed in 2012, depicted a curved complex.

The casino is being developed on roughly 151 acres within an industrial park in Taunton, a city more than 30 miles from Boston.

The land was among more than 300 acres recently placed into trust for the tribe by the federal government, a decision that’s being challenged in court by Massachusetts Gaming and Entertainment. The company, a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, is seeking a state gambling license for a $677 million resort casino in nearby Brockton.

The federally recognized tribe is racing to open Massachusetts’ first resort casino.

Wynn Resorts is developing a $1.7 billion casino north of Boston on the Everett waterfront while MGM is building a $950 million one in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield.

Both of those major resorts have faced a series of setbacks and are now projected to open in late 2018, at earliest. Plainridge Park, a more modest slot parlor and harness racing track, opened last summer in Plainville, not far from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s proposed casino.

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