An Aquinnah tribal casino appears likely to move forward after opponents failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority in a referendum to kill the idea, a tribe leader said Tuesday.

The Feb. 16 referendum sought to overturn a vote in May 2012 by the membership of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) to turn an unfinished community center on Martha’s Vineyard into a high-stakes bingo hall equipped with machines that look like slot machines.

“(The referendum) failed by three votes,” Beverly Wright, chairwoman of the town’s Board of Selectmen and a tribe member, said Tuesday.

It’s unclear how many voters were at the meeting, but there had to be 35 or more to have a quorum.

Wright supports the tribe’s rights to a casino under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but opposes a casino on Martha’s Vineyard, she said.

“It’s our traditional homelands and our ancestors fought tooth and nail to keep our lands,” Wright said. “To desecrate our lands is not something I’m in favor of. We’re a small town, a two-lane road. What about traffic? What (about) septic? What about water? What about parking?”

According to the tribe’s constitution, the referendum can’t be brought before tribe members for another year, Wright said. “I don’t know of anyone in the town who is in favor of the facility being built in Aquinnah,” she said.

Tobias Vanderhoop, chairman of the tribal council, said by email he will follow the will of the voters. “In this case the people have spoken and, with the outcome of the February 16th referendum, the previous actions of the general membership and the tribal council stand and the tribe will move forward with the on-island gaming project,” he wrote. Continue reading…….