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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