Litigation | Openings & Closings

Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe owes HUD for casino building

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

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts will owe $1.1 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for repurposing a community center into a gaming facility.

The tribe accepted a HUD grant to build the center on Black Brook Road in Aquinnah. But since the building will no longer be used for the same purpose, the money must be repaid.

“We will have to close out the grant that is still open,” Chairman Tobias Vanderhoop said in a deposition [Part 1 | Part 2] for a federal lawsuit that questions the legality of the plan. “And then, yes, we will have to establish a repayment timeline for the funds.”

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

The tribe was due to start converting the center into a 6,500 square-foot casino earlier this month. The town of Aquinnah issued a cease and desist order and is now asking a federal judge to stop work at the site.

The casino is controversial on the island of Martha's Vineyard and within the tribe. Some members are hoping to stop it in referendum scheduled for August 16.

Get the Story:
Martha’s Vineyard Casino Plan Divides Tribe (The Wall Street Journal 7/25)
Tribal Chairman Smack in Middle of Legal Fight Over Casino (The Vineyard Gazette 7/24)
Aquinnah opponents share frustration, strategy over tribe bingo hall plans (The Martha's Vineyard Times 7/22)

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)

Related Stories:
Members of Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe debate casino bid (7/21)
Massachusetts tribes still trying to get into the casino game (7/20)
Judge sets hearing in Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe casino case (7/15)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe faces court action over casino bid (7/14)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe might stop work on Class II project (7/13)
Editorial: Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe's wrong approach on casino (7/9)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe ignores order to stop working on casino (7/7)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe told to stop working on gaming facility (7/6)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe starts work on Class II gaming facility (7/3)