A federal judge has upheld his ban on a bingo-style slot parlor on Martha’s Vineyard for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
In a one-sentence decision filed Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Saylor IV wrote, “After careful consideration and review, the motion of defendants and counter-claim plaintiffs is denied.”
Tribe attorneys had asked Saylor to reconsider his Nov. 13 decision.
The tribe is now expected to appeal to the First District Court of Appeals.
In 2013, the state filed suit attempting to block the use of a community center on the tribe’s island land for a Class II casino. The suit was moved to federal court and considered under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The state and Town of Aquinnah claim a land settlement between them and the tribe prohibits casino gambling on Martha’s Vineyard land controlled by the tribe. The tribe counters that Indian law gives all federally-recognized tribes the ability to offer gambling and trumps any settlement agreements.
Wednesday’s ruling comes two weeks after lawyers for the tribe filed a motion asking Saylor to reconsider his decision based on new information surrounding two tribes in Texas that have been authorized by the National Indian Gaming Commission to offer Class II casinos on their lands.
It was considered a long shot to ask Saylor to overturn his own ruling, but was considered a way to expedite the process which has already been long and arduous.
It also comes as support among tribe members is waning. Several votes have been taken by the tribe to use the community center as a gambling facility and have passed, but the most recent vote taken in August ended in a tie. As a result, tribe leaders pushed forward with the legal battle.
In his initial decision granting summary judgment, Saylor ruled the tribe has shown insufficient evidence that it had the right to exercise governmental power over settlement lands.