No casino in Lakeville — that was the overwhelming opinion from voters in a special election held in this southeastern Massachusetts town on Saturday. Turning out in strong numbers for the single-question, nonbinding referendum, Lakeville voters joined their neighbors in Freetown by coming out against the casino planned by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). The Vineyard Wampanoags want to build a $167 million casino and resort on 515 acres spanning the two towns.
The Lakeville vote was 1,735 to 172 against the plan. Voter turnout was strong at 27 per cent.
“I was surprised we had such a high turnout,” said Lakeville town clerk Jan Tracy after the votes were counted Saturday.
Freetown voters held a similar nonbinding referendum on Tuesday last week, with similar results. Voters in that town rejected the casino question 954 to 308.
The Wampanoags are vying for the right to win a single casino license expected to be issued by the state to a federally recognized Indian tribe sometime late this summer or fall. The Mashpee Wampanoags, the only other federally recognized tribe in the commonwealth, are working on plans to build a casino resort in Taunton.
Gov. Deval Patrick is negotiating with the Mashpee Wampanoags but to date has refused to negotiate with the Vineyard tribe, claiming the tribe waived its sovereign rights in a 1987 land use agreement.
The Vineyard Wampanoags have said they will sue in federal court to protect their rights to build a casino gambling facility.