Whenever the ferry pulls away from Woods Hole heading to Martha’s Vineyard, I exhale. I know in a quick 45 minutes I’ll have left behind the high-octane trappings of my Type A existence.

I’m one of the regular visitors, part of the tourist hordes who boost the island population about seven fold in summer. But despite the yearly crowds, Martha’s Vineyard has maintained a relaxed, almost sleepy ambiance. Residents of the six towns have fiercely protected Martha’s Vineyard’s quirky character. You may spot a celebrity at Homeport Restaurant, or a president at Bunch of Grapes bookstore, but you won’t find a MacDonald’s or Starbucks on Martha’s Vineyard.

That’s why I am distressed about the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah’s plans to open a casino. Aquinnah sits at the very top of Martha’s Vineyard where there are stunning vistas everywhere you look ----and a stately historic lighthouse looking towards the sea.

The Aquinnah Wampanoag are asserting the tribe’s right to open, what they say, will not be a large resort casino, but rather a small boutique, to be located in an unfinished community center. It would feature bingo-like games and poker. Revenues will be used to fund programs and services for the tribe.

Non-tribe supporters say the small casino will attract customers to other businesses on the island. Opponents worry the casino will increase crime, ramp up traffic, and create temptation--especially for year round residents-- struggling with addictions. 

I support the right of the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah to exercise its sovereignty and I recognize that tourism is a staple of the island’s economy. But, I hate the idea of a casino here. I think casino commerce is crassly commercial, a very different business than the ubiquitous tee shirt shops. And I dread seeing the two-lane road to the town choked with gamblers heading to the casino to let the chips ride.

I see it as ironic that the lighthouse at Aquinnah, a landmark since 1856, is now in imminent danger of falling off its picturesque cliff because of a century of erosion.

Odds are the Aquinnah casino will also erode the specialness that is Martha’s Vineyard. And that’s a bad bet.