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Mass. casino panel to vote to OK southeastern bids

BOSTON (AP) -- The panel overseeing the state's casino gambling law is planning to vote to open the licensing process to bids from commercial developers in southeastern Massachusetts.

Commercial developers have previously been excluded under a provision that gave preference to a Native American tribe in the region.

Tuesday's planned vote has been described as an "imperfect" solution by Massachusetts Gaming Commission chair Stephen Crosby.

It does not guarantee that commercial developers will be able to compete for a casino license nor does it jettison a proposal by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to build a casino in Taunton.

The year-old law allows up to three resort-style casinos across the state, but gave first crack in the southeastern region to a federally-recognized tribe.

Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday declined to comment on the pending vote.