In poker, when a player goes "all in," they're betting with all their chips on a single hand. Other players have to either match that amount or go all-in themselves if they wish to call.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ordered the federal Department of Interior to reshuffle their cards and reconsider their 2018 Taunton decision that would irreparably harm to the status of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.

In short, the judge told the Trump Administration that the agency didn't follow its own instructions and ground rules in making the decision that the government couldn't hold land in trust for the tribe.

The Mashpee Wampanoags filed a lawsuit to keep possession of sovereignty over the tribe's reservation after the Interior Department said they couldn't hold on to the land because the tribe wasn't under the federal authority when Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. Judge Friedman faulted that decision, saying it was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to the law." Congressman William Keating agrees with Judge Friedman, and I'm going all in, putting my chips on Keating and Friedman.

The issue of getting a casino up and running in Taunton is quite complicated, but one thing is crystal clear: without reservation status, the tribe would lose its authority to be eligible for federal programs and needed funding to cover things from low-cost housing to COVID-19 relief.

If the tribe loses its sovereignty over the land in its entirety, it certainly would render the tribe irrecoverable and beyond hope. Congressman Keating sees the level-headedness of the judge's decision, and so do I.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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