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Panel to take initial casino bids from Mass.

BOSTON (AP) -- The state panel overseeing casino gambling in has agreed to accept preliminary applications from commercial casino developers in southeastern Massachusetts.

The state's year-old casino law gives preference in that region to a federally-recognized Indian tribe. But the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which has proposed a casino in Taunton, faces several obstacles that could delay or scuttle its plan.

On Tuesday, the five-member gaming commission agreed to accept initial applications from commercial developers while still allowing time for the tribe to resolve its issues. A formal vote on the proposal is expected next week.

The panel said it would not decide for several more months whether to allow commercial developers to move to a second application phase.

Commission chair Stephen Crosby called it any "imperfect" solution, but one that was fair to all sides and to the region.