A plan to create a tribal gaming hall on Martha’s Vineyard has been a controversial one from the start. The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and the Chickasaw Nation have been partnered for quite some time in an effort to bring a Class II facility to the region. The plan has stalled and now faces further scrutiny as a regional planning agency of Massachusetts will hold three meetings on the subject.
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) and Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) representatives are set to meet this week, with two more meetings to follow. On June 3rd, the MVC’s Land Use Planning Committee will be reviewing the gaming venue and then just three days later, a public hearing will take place with the full MVC group.
Officials from Aquinnah and Chilmark asked the Commission to review the plans for the venue. The project has been classified as a development of regional impact which requires the commission review the project and determine the impact it will have on the local communities. Additional requirements can be imposed by the commissioners. This can include concerns regarding traffic, energy, environmental and aesthetic issues.
The tribe has yet to respond to the Commission on the matter. According to Chairman, Douglas Sederholm, the tribe is ignoring the group. Reportedly, the tribe is questioning the authority of the review since the project has been approved by the federal courts. Aside from the MVC review, Aquinnah and the tribe will probably have their attorneys at the federal court hearing set to take place on the 31st of May.
Arguments are expected to be heard by US District Court Judge, F. Dennis Saylor IV, on the local zoning laws role in the project versus the laws within the Indian Gaming Rights Act.
Ongoing Since August 2018:
It was in August of last year that the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe announced that they would be working with the Chickasaw Nation to create the gaming facility on Martha’s Vineyard. The tribe would like to provide Class II games which would include electronic and standard bingo. The plan was to see the Chickasaw Nation assist the Tribe of Gay Head with their gaming facility via Global Gaming Solutions.
In January 2018, the Aquinnah Tribe won the right to open a gaming facility within their homelands. The decision by the United States Supreme Court put an end to the long-running sovereignty dispute between the tribe, the state of Massachusetts and the Town of Aquinnah.