Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe gets court date in gaming lawsuit

Chairman Tobias Vanderhoop of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts. Photo by UNITY / United National Indian Tribal Youth The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe is headed back to court to defend its gaming rights.

The tribe wants to open a Class II gaming facility on its reservation. But a federal judge, in response to a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts, said the tribe can't follow the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The case will now be heard by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments will take place in Boston on December 6, The Vineyard Gazette reports.

The Obama administration is siding with the tribe. The Department of Justice is asking for time to argue at the hearing but the court hasn't ruled on the request.

Normally, Class II gaming can occur on any reservation without state input. But the tribe is in a unique situation because of the Massachusetts Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1987.

According to Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV, the settlement act requires the tribe to follow state and local laws that do not otherwies authorize gaming.

Congress passed IGRA in 1988. The tribe and the Obama administration argue that the law "implicitly repealed" the provisions in the settlement.

The 1st Circuit actually agreed with that approach in a lawsuit involving the Narragansett Tribe in neighboring Rhode Island. But the state's Congressional delegation overruled the decision by inserting a provision in an appropriations act that bars the tribe from following IGRA.

Read More on the Story:
Arguments Set in Appeal of Wampanoag Casino Case (The Vineyard Gazette 10/25)

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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