Wampanoag Tribe Asks Federal Judge To Reconsider Casino Ruling John H. Kennedy – MV Gazette

The Aquinnah tribe on Friday asked a federal judge to reconsider his decision to reject its bid to build a gambling hall on tribal land.

In its motion, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) argued that U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th should take note of new developments, including those involving two Texas tribes in situations similar to the tribe on Martha’s Vineyard.

Attorneys for the tribe are seeking oral arguments before the judge.

Judge Saylor ruled Nov. 13 that the tribe does not exert sufficient governmental power over its land to qualify under the Indian Gaming Rights Act for a class II gambling facility, which features electronic bingo.

In addition, the judge found that even if the tribe qualified under IGRA, the 1988 law would not invalidate gambling restrictions in a land claims settlement agreement approved by the tribe in 1983 and ratified as law by the commonwealth and federal government 1987. The settlement ended a nine-year-old lawsuit brought by the tribe against the town and gave the tribe land in Gay Head (today Aquinnah), but also required compliance with state and local laws, including prohibitions on gambling.

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State Supreme Court Set to Decide Aquinnah Land Use Case - MV Gazette

Rare heathlands off Moshup Trail are at center of 18-year-old court case.– Mark Lovewell

The state’s highest court heard arguments this week in a widely-watched land use case that will ultimately decide whether a swath of rare coastal heathland along Moshup Trail in Aquinnah will remain forever wild or be opened up for development.

The complicated 18-year-old case involves arcane issues of law and is the first of its kind to be heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The outcome could potentially have far-reaching effects on land titles throughout the town of Aquinnah.

Lead plaintiffs in the case are Aquinnah landowners James Decoulos and Maria Kitras, who want to establish their right of legal access to two landlocked parcels off Moshup Trail totaling about 30 acres. To reach their land from the public road, they are seeking an easement through conservation land. Without legal access to a public road, a property cannot be developed. They are joined by another plaintiff group that includes Aquinnah landowners Mark and Charles Harding.

Defendants include the town of Aquinnah, the Vineyard Conservation Society, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, the state of Massachusetts and several private property owners, among them Caroline Kennedy and her husband Edwin Schlossberg Jr.

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Tribe Will Appeal U.S. Court Ruling Denying Casino Rights – MV Gazette

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) will appeal a judge’s ruling denying it the right to operate a gambling hall in Aquinnah, a lawyer representing the tribe said Sunday.

Tribal council members last week gave the go-ahead to a legal attempt to overturn the ruling by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th, who rejected the tribe’s bid to convert its unfinished and vacant community center into a class II (electronic bingo) gaming operation, said Scott Crowell, a Sedona, Arizona-based attorney.

Mr. Crowell said the tribe would certainly appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, but might first ask the judge to reconsider the ruling. “We disagree with the decision on several levels,” he said.

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Judge Rules Tribe Gave Up Rights to Build Casino in Aquinnah – MV Gazette

Town and homeowners have been battling in court over whether tribe can build a casino at western tip of Island. Mark Lovewell

As it turns out, a gambling facility is not in Martha’s Vineyard’s foreseeable future. A federal judge has rejected legal arguments by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) that it has the right to open a class II casino, which features electronic bingo machines, on tribal land at the western tip of the Island. The decision on Nov. 13 by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th was a sweeping legal victory for the town of Aquinnah, the state and the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association, which argued that the tribe must submit to local and state gambling prohibitions.

Tribal leaders said they were considering their options — an appeal is expected — but their legal effort to convert a vacant and unfinished community center to a gambling hall now faces a steeper hill to climb. Only last July, they had expressed hopes of opening the gaming hall by the end of the year.

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Judge says Wampanoag tribe may not build a gaming hall in Aquinnah - MV Times

In a sweeping decision for the town of Aquinnah, the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV said Friday the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) cannot turn its long unused community center into a gambling hall.

The 40-page decision has significant implications for the Wampanoag Tribe, the town and Martha’s Vineyard. Judge Saylor said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) signed in 1988 does not trump the Settlement Act signed by tribal leadership in 1983 and ratified by the state legislature in 1985 and by Congress in 1987.

The settlement agreement stipulated that the tribe was subject to local and state laws and zoning regulations in effect at the time and it has formed the bedrock of the longstanding legal relationship between the tribe and the Martha’s Vineyard community,

Following a detailed analysis of the issues in the case, Judge Saylor said, “In summary, the tribe has not met its burden of demonstrating that it exercises sufficient ‘governmental power’ over the settlement lands, and therefore IGRA does not apply. Furthermore, and in any event, it is clear that IGRA did not repeal by implication the Massachusetts Settlement Act. Accordingly, the tribe cannot build a gaming facility on the settlement lands without complying with the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth and town.”

The 6,500-square-foot building slated to become a bingo hall was originally intended to be a community center. It was erected at taxpayer expense just off the entrance road to the tribal lands by two teams of Air Force reservists in 2004 and 2005, as a civil engineering community project. The shell has sat dormant and unfinished since the citizen-soldiers departed.

It was not until Gov. Deval Patrick signed the state’s 2011 expanded gaming law, which authorized

Continue reading Judge says Wampanoag tribe may not build a gaming hall in Aquinnah – MV Times

Court Denies Tribe Rights to Pursue Gambling on Martha’s Vineyard – MV Gazette

A federal judge Friday handed a significant legal victory to the state, the town of Aquinnah and a homeowners group in a decision rejecting assertions by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) that it has the right to open a gambling hall at the western tip of the Island. U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV, in a 40-page decision, ruled that the tribe’s bid fell short on two legal grounds. First, it had not exercised “sufficient governmental power” over its lands to qualify for gaming rights under the Indian Gaming Rights Act.

In addition, the judge said, the IGRA, passed by Congress in 1988, did not invalidate a 1987 settlement act that gave the tribe about 485 acres of land in Aquinnah but placed it under the jurisdiction of state and local laws, including prohibitions on gambling.

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