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Massachusetts Tribe Gets Court Approval for Casino

- April 12, 2017 By Oliver Young -

The Federal Court decision will make it easier for Massachusetts tribes to establish casinos.

Both federally recognised tribes of Massachusetts hoping to establish casino facilities.

Massachusetts is a state where gambling and gambling related topics often find their way in the news. Even though voters rejected the idea of opening a second slot parlour in the state on a referendum held on the same date with the 2016 Presidential Election, the gambling industry in this state has a lot to look forward to.

The 2014 Morgan Stanley report predicts that Massachusetts will be one of the states that will legalise online gambling in 2018. There is still a long way to go until then, and these days, Massachusetts’ casino community has been preoccupied with other news and events. A decision from 2015 prevented one of the state’s native tribes to open a casino facility, but now that decision has been reversed.

Federal Court Reversed District Court’s Decision

Members of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head of Massachusetts were thrilled when they heard the news that a federal court reversed the decision that stopped their tribe from establishing and operating a gambling facility on Martha’s Vineyard, a Massachusetts island located south of Cape of Cod. This court decision know enables the opening of a new gambling facility within the state borders.

Aquinnah Wampanoag is one of the two native tribes in Massachusetts that have received federal recognition. Few years ago, Aquinnah Wampanoag announced their plans to establish a casino-line venue with 300 gaming machines alike slots. The tribe planned on establishing the gaming venue in an uncompleted community centre on the mentioned island, claiming that the revenue in the first year alone would amount to $5 million.

The local District Court viewed the matter differently and concluded that the tribe didn’t provide sufficient proof that it has federal authorisation to establish and operate such a facility. An Appeals Court in Boston, on the other hand, thought that the tribe has the authorisation and that the tribe’s legal case was strong enough, so it concluded that the tribe should be granted a permission to establish the casino.

Great Years Ahead for the Massachusetts Gambling Industry

The District Court quoted a document from the 1980s signed by the tribe and the state officials as the reason why it ruled against the tribe’s intention to establish a gambling facility. However, the gambling law that was in power in 2011, was later challenged and eventually a new regulatory framework was passed under which tribes had the authority to establish gambling facilities on tribal land without having to obtain state authorisation.

The Aquinnah will build the new casino on a property 485 acres large that the tribe has claimed as ancestral land. The tribe also agreed to work in accordance with the state law regarding games of chances.

Aquinnah Wampanoag isn’t the only Massachusetts tribe that intends to open a casino. Mashpee Wampanoag, the other federally recognised tribe is also making an attempt to open a casino on tribal land and it waits approval. Under the provisions of the plan the Mashpee are hoping to build a $1 billion casino report in Taunton.

Massachusetts casino industry is still in its infancy, as casino gambling was legalised in 2013. The Gaming Commission stated that it will award up to 4 licences. Wynn and MGM are already building their casino resorts in the state.

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