Wampanoag Tribe Gets Casino Go-Ahead

By Ben Hamill - March 03 2021

Wampanoag Tribe Gets Casino Go-Ahead

All isn’t lost for a Massachusetts tribe hoping to construct a 10,000 square-foot casino and Bingo Hall in Martha’s Vineyard. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, who first started experiencing resistance from the community back in 2013 when it initially stated its case for the construction of a massive electronic Bingo hall, last week heard from a panel of judges of the First Circuit Court of Appeals that it would have to follow local gaming regulations if it wanted to build a casino, as planned.

But while last week’s ruling may not be all the tribe had been hoping for, it doesn’t propose to prevent the Wampanoag Tribe from building a gaming establishment on settlement lands – it only dictates that in order to proceed with construction, the tribe will first have to acquire the necessary permits according to local laws and regulations.

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Ruling Still Welcomed

According to a text message sent by tribal council chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais to a local news publication, the most recent ruling and court opinion doesn’t change anything about the fact that the tribe is permitted to conduct and manage a gaming venue on the proposed tribal lands. Maltais said that neither Martha’s Vineyard nor Aquinnah town management could use the ruling as any sort of an excuse to try and prevent the tribe from erecting a casino and/or Bingo hall.

But judging by the response from Aquinnah chairman of the board Jim Newman, the town is no longer as opposed to the idea of a casino as back in 2013. Newman following Thursday’s ruling said that he desired an amicable relationship with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, and that he considered getting back to litigation-free relations the best course of action for everyone involved. Newman said the town wanted to move forward in a “normal” and constructive manner.

Town Must Accommodate Tribe

Working together in an amicable way is exactly the course of action that had been proposed by the judges who had overseen the court proceedings. They did in fact echo many of the sentiments expressed by Maltais, including the tribe’s right to develop a gaming venue on Martha’s Vineyard – subject to the necessary regulatory frameworks being met and local laws adhered to.

The judges in their ruling emphasised that the town should not consider itself at liberty to discriminate against the tribe, harass the members of the tribe, or prevent the tribe from building and operating a casino.

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