, Salem, MA


November 13, 2013

Mass. tribe says feds approve limited gambling


The tribe has disputed the state’s assertion.

Patrick’s chief legal counsel, Kate Cook, said in a statement that the state has the authority under the land claims settlement to regulate gambling on the Aquinnah’s land, but said it would review the tribe’s request “closely and in good faith and proceed accordingly.”

Patrick separately negotiated a compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which has proposed a resort casino in Taunton. The Legislature gave final approval to that compact on Tuesday.

During a conference call with reporters, Andrews-Maltais said the temporary gambling hall on the island could be up and running in a matter of months, making it the first gambling facility to open in Massachusetts. A state law passed in 2011 allows for up to three regional resort casinos and one slots parlor, but the Aquinnah facility would not fall under the jurisdiction of that law.

“What we’re looking to be is another entertainment venue for people who come to the island for their regular vacations,” Andrews-Maltais said.

She said she did not believe the Martha’s Vineyard facility would require approval from the state or from local governments to go forward.

Clyde Barrow, a professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and an expert on casino gambling, said it was likely that the state and possibly the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, a planning agency for the island, would take legal action to stop the tribe from opening the facility.

Barrow said the Aquinnah may be using Tuesday’s announcement as leverage to force the Patrick administration to enter into casino negotiations.

Martha’s Vineyard, said Barrow, is a “horrible location” for a casino, with narrow roads and heavy traffic during the summer.

The tribe felt a responsibility to protect the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard, Maltais-Andres said, and its gambling facility would blend in with the island and have an overall positive economic impact.

In 1998, the Fall River Council rejected a proposal by the Aquinnah to develop a $25 million bingo parlor in that city.


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