Referendum on Martha’s Vineyard Tribal Casino Fails to Win Majority

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head voted on Sunday on the proposed plan for the establishment of a gambling venue that would offer bingo style games. The property is to be located on tribal land on the Martha’s Vineyard island. However, results showed that the proposal could not get the necessary two-thirds majority.

Tobias Vanderhoop, Chairman of the tribe, said on Sunday that 110 tribal members voted in favor of the project and other 110 cast a negative vote. There were also 8 disqualified votes. Mr. Vanderhoop commented that due to people’s will, there will be no change in the current state of affairs of the Aquinnah Wampanoag. Casino online

Under the tribe’s constitution, two-thirds of its members need to vote in favor of a given proposal, in order for the referendum to be passed to the Tribal Council.

The referendum was held as Massachusetts, officials from the town of Aquinnah, and a local community association filed a lawsuit in order to prevent the project from being completed. Opponents argued that under a 1983 agreement between the state and the tribe, the latter was granted 500 acres of land on the island but was banned from providing gambling options on that land.

Being federally recognized, the tribe argued that it could provide limited gambling at properties located on tribal land. Both parties were heard last Wednesday by a federal judge. A decision is to be announced later on.

It is important to note that if completed, the proposed gambling venue would feature only electronic, bingo-style games and not traditional casino ones, such as roulette, craps, or blackjack.

Earlier this summer, tensions between Aquinnah and tribal officials escalated as the tribe proceeded with the construction of the gambling property without being given the necessary approval by the town. However, construction work was halted due to a court order.

The potential launch of a gambling hall divided tribal members as well. Most of the opponents reside on the island and voiced concerns that traffic and crime rate might increase as well as a number of other social ills might arise.

Keen supporters of the proposal pointed out that the facility may annually generate $4.5 million and the money will be used by tribal officials for important services for the majority of the tribal members – that is, those who reside in the town of Aquinnah.

Last week, Mr. Vanderhoop told media that the results from the Sunday referendum would not stop the tribe from pursuing gambling on the island. In other words, the project will be re-introduced at some point in future. Under the current tribal laws, referendums on a given matter can be held once a year.