A proposed Aquinnah casino reached legal and political crossroads this week, as the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) asked a federal judge to validate its gambling project just days before its members are to vote on a bid to scrap it.
Lawyers for the tribe and for the state, the town and a community association made their final arguments Wednesday to U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th in Boston before he rules on a key question — does federal law allow the tribe to operate a class II gambling venue in Aquinnah.
At the end of an 80-minute hearing, the judge took the case under advisement, but promised to render a decision on cross motions for summary judgment “as quickly as I can.”
This Sunday, tribe members will gather for their quarterly general membership meeting in Aquinnah, where a ballot initiative asks them to stop the gambling project, planned for the tribe’s unfinished and vacant community center.
Members who oppose the casino gathered enough signatures last month to force a vote on whether to repeal all resolutions by the tribal council — the tribe’s elected leadership — to convert the 6,500-square-foot building into a gambling hall.