Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe starts work on Class II gaming facility

Chairman Tobias Vanderhoop of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts. Photo from UNITY / Facebook

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe plans to open a Class II gaming facility by the end of the year, The Martha's Vineyard Gazette reports.

The tribe is placing the casino in an an unfinished community center on the reservation. Construction is expected to start next week and could last more than two months, the paper said.

"With previous votes of the citizens of the tribe, and tribal government, yes, we are moving," Chairman Tobias Vanderhoop told the paper.

The New England Casino Race: Tribal and commercial gaming facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Even though Class II and Class III gaming are legal in Massachusetts, the state claims the tribe can't use its reservation for a casino due to restrictions in the Massachusetts Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1987. A lawsuit is pending in federal court.

The Interior Department and the National Indian Gaming Commission have concluded that the tribe can follow the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which became law a year after the settlement act. The agencies are not involved in the suit.

In 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the law subjects the tribe to state jurisdiction. The case, however, did not involve gaming.

The reservation is located on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Get the Story:
Wampanoag Tribe Puts Casino on Fast Track; Selectmen Call Closed-Door Meeting (The Martha's Vineyard Gazette 7/3)
Plainridge Park Generates $6.1M in Gambling Revenues (AP 7/3)

Relevant Documents:
Solicitor Letter to Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (August 23, 2013)
NIGC Letter to Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (October 25, 2013)
Press Release: GSB Client Aquinnah Wampanoag to be First to Game in Massachusetts (November 12, 2013)

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