U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor ruled in Boston this week that the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe must stop construction on their planned Class II gambling facility on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The town of Aquinnah had earlier sought the injunction to halt progress until the judge could hear an underlying case.
A previously scheduled hearing before the same judge will go on as planned on August 12th. That hearing is to determine whether the tribe has the right to build a casino on their land, or if they need permission from local and state agencies.
Earlier this month the tribe stated they were continuing with plans for the gaming facility in a re-purposed, uncompleted community center and planned to open it this calendar year. Selectman of the town then issued a cease and desist order. The tribe did not recognize the legal authority of the letter, instead relying on legal opinions that say the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 gives them the right to operate a gaming facility on sovereign land without local or state approval.
The judge cautioned that this week’s ruling should not be seen as an indication of how he will rule on the larger matter.