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The clay cliffs in Aquinnah, Massachusetts, the home of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe. Photo by Jens Dahlin Flickr

Appeals court reverses ruling blocking tribe’s casino bid

BOSTON- A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court decision that had prevented a native American tribe on Martha’s Vineyard from building a gambling hall on the Massachusetts resort island.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision made public Tuesday ruled that the Aquinnah (ah-KWIH’-nah) Wampanoags exercise sufficient government powers on their lands to be considered a sovereign tribal nation that can conduct casino-style gambling under federal law.

The tribe had appealed a 2015 decision by a district court judge in favour of the town of Aquinnah and the state, which had jointly taken the tribe to court to block the gambling development.

The tribe proposed turning an unfinished community centre on its land into a facility housing hundreds of electronic betting machines.

The tribe, town and state didn’t immediately comment.