Massachusetts Governor Against Martha’s Vineyard Casino Plans
The Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick has filed a lawsuit with the aim of blocking the Martha’s Vineyard based Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe from opening a small casino on the island.The lawsuit has been filed with the State Supreme Judicial Court and argues that the tribe ceded gambling rights in a 1983 settlement that secured tribal lands on the island. The tribe claims that it is an incorrect interpretation of the agreement.
Last month tribal leaders said that they had federal approval to build a gambling venue which could offer high-stakes electronic bingo or poker games and some slot machines but not casino table games. The plan is to convert an unfinished community center on the island into a temporary Class II gambling facility.
In the lawsuit it is argued that the 1983 agreement blocks the tribe from establishing a casino without a gambling license issued under state law. Only the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has the authority to issue these licenses.
However, the tribe has received a legal opinion from Eric Shepard, the acting general counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission, which states that the tribe may operate limited gambling under the federal law which governs tribal gaming.