Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe submits first brief in gaming appeal

The clay cliffs in Aquinnah, Massachusetts, the home of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe. Photo by Jens Dahlin / Flickr

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe filed the opening brief in a gaming dispute with the state of Massachusetts.

Last November, Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV issued a 40-page decision that said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 does not apply to the reservation. He issued an injunction in January that prevents the tribe from building a Class II facility on its own lands.

The tribe is now hoping the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn the decision. A 70-page brief cites recent developments in Texas, where the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe opened a Class II facility under circumstances similar to those in Massachusetts.

"Through the Texas Developments, the federal government has sent a clear message that it intends for the NIGC to exclusively regulate Class II gaming, as defined under IGRA, on the Indian lands of the Texas Tribes to the exclusion of the State of Texas," the brief states.

The National Indian Gaming Commission gave a green light to the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and the Tigua Tribe to offer Class II games even though all three fall under federal laws that have been interpreted, at various times, to prohibit them from following IGRA.

The NIGC, however, is not a party to the Massachusetts lawsuit. The Wampanoags argue that the case should not have proceeded without the agency's involvement.

Get the Story:
Aquinnah tribe won't give up fight for island gaming (The Cape Cod Times 6/1)

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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