Vineyard Tribe Makes a Bid for State Gaming License

Bingo hall project on tribal land in Aquinnah remains stalled. Mark Alan Lovewell

With construction of an electronic bingo hall in Aquinnah on indefinite hold, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has petitioned Gov. Charlie Baker to enter into formal negotiations for a full gaming license, including mobile sports betting.

In a Sept. 8 letter to the governor, tribal chairwoman Cheryl Andrews Maltais said she was making an “official request to enter into formal gaming negotiations with the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” as prescribed by the Indian Gaming Rights Act (IGRA). IGRA provides that a tribe that wants to conduct Class III gaming must first enter into a state-tribal compact.

The letter was released Monday by the Aquinnah select board, which had obtained a copy from the governor’s office.

“I think that it’s important for this letter to be shown to our community,” select board member Tom Murphy said prior to the letter’s release.

Town counsel Ronald Rappaport attended the meeting.

The Aquinnah tribe’s recent focus has been on its plan to create a Class II gaming facility on the Island, which does not require approval from the state. It was shut out of a license for full casino gambling in 2012, when former Gov. Deval Patrick gave the Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee the chance to negotiate the sole state Class III license reserved for a recognized Native American tribe. (In a bit of irony, it was 10 years ago Monday, when Gov. Patrick signed the law allowing gambling in Massachusetts.)After receiving a […]

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