OPINION | Barry Richard: New Bedford May Have Another Shot at a Casino
The City of New Bedford could be back in the casino game.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to a lower court ruling that seems to allow The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head to proceed with plans for a small casino on the remote west side of Martha's Vineyard. Tribal Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais issued a statement saying the casino could generate millions each year to provide assistance to tribal members;
“Now that this issue is finally resolved, we’d like to put the legal battles behind us, and focus on working with the town and Commonwealth; to weigh our options and determine the best pathway forward for us to provide the necessary services of health care, elders’ and children’s services, education, housing, and employment opportunities for all of our tribal members.”
It is my belief that The Aquinnah continues to be interested in locating a casino on the mainland. The Boston Globe says it could require a change in the gaming law for that to occur. Remember that the gaming law does give preferential treatment to Native American gaming in Southeastern Massachusetts. With The Mashpee Wampanoag seemingly unable to proceed, their cousins, the federally recognizes Aquinnah should be given the same opportunity by the state.
The Aquinnah came extremely close to siting a casino at The Whaling City Golf Course on Hathaway Road in 1995. The Mitchell Administration is currently attempting to market the golf course for development. What a coincidence!
New Bedford residents have long supported casino gaming and have voted on several occasions in favor of being a host community. The Mitchell Administration should immediately initiate discussions with the Aquinnah about its interest in a mainland casino and how New Bedford could be a part of that plan.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.