Wampanoag Tribe Of Aquinnah Says It Has Federal Approval To Build A Casino On Martha's Vineyard; State Of Massachusetts Disagrees

on November 12 2013 2:20 PM
5. Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Martha's Vineyard Median 2010: $1.35 million Flickr

The Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah won federal approval Tuesday to open a casino on its tribal land on Martha’s Vineyard, to the consternation of state officials.

Massachusetts officials insist that the Aquinnah abandoned their Indian Gaming Regulatory Act rights during a land settlement in the 1980s, when the tribe allegedly agreed to abide by state law on its territory.

Until a permanent casino can be built, the tribe plans to convert an unfinished community center into a temporary casino.

A limited number of casinos will be licensed through a competition controlled by the state gambling commission according to state law -- and the tribe did not apply for a license.

The tribe received the federal go-ahead for the casino from Eric Shepard, acting general counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission, the agency that governs tribal gambling.

The tribe plans to build what the IGRA would call a Class 2 facility, which permits games like high-stakes bingo, poker and slot machines. To add blackjack and roulette to that list, the tribe must negotiate with Gov. Deval Patrick on an agreement that would likely result in the sharing of revenue.