Freetown votes no on Wampanoag Tribe casino proposal

In a nonbinding referendum on Tuesday, May 29, voters in Freetown overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) to build a casino on land straddling Freetown and the bordering town of Lakeville.

The vote was 954-308 against the multimillion dollar proposal, Freetown town clerk Jacqueline A. Brown said Wednesday morning. Twenty-two percent of the town’s registered voters participated.

Residents of Lakeville will vote on the same proposal on Saturday, June 2.

The Aquinnah Wampanoag and its backers have proposed to build a $167-million casino resort on 500 acres straddling the two communities along Route 140.

As a fallback position, the tribe has said that it would turn its as yet unused community center in Aquinnah into a “boutique” casino.

Aquinnah selectmen have said they will oppose any effort to develop a casino in the Island’s smallest town. Town counsel Ron Rappaport has said the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head Inc. cannot legally operate a gaming casino in Aquinnah, based on the terms of the 1983 Settlement Act that preceded federal recognition of the tribe.