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Shinnecock Nation announces deal with Seminole Hard Rock for casino venture

The Shinnecock Indian Nation announced a partnership with

The Shinnecock Indian Nation announced a partnership with Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment and Tri-State Partners.  Credit: Newsday/Ellen Watson

The Shinnecock Indian Nation on Wednesday disclosed several strategic moves to reignite its decade-long plans to enter casino gaming in New York, announcing a “fully vested” partnership with native-gaming giant Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment and developer Tri-State Partners.

The tribe also said the U.S. National Indian Gaming Commission this summer approved its tribal gaming ordinance, which outlines the structure, rules and objectives of the tribe’s gaming initiatives.

The 660-member tribe, which operates on sovereign territory in Southampton, has long-held ambitions to open one or more casinos in the state as a way to advance an economic agenda through greater tribal employment and revenue development.

The Shinnecock Nation’s federal recognition, finalized in 2010, gives it the right to do class-II gaming, involving video terminals and bingo parlors, on tribal land. It also has the right to do class-III gaming, which involves full table gambling, on either tribal land or land taken into trust for the tribe at an offsite location. To do so, it must sit down with the state to negotiate a compact, a formal agreement that determines the location and type of facility, and revenue-sharing obligations.

New York State, which approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 to expand casino gaming, is in the midst of a study to “determine the economic feasibility and overall impact of granting additional casino licenses downstate,” according to a spokesman for the state Gaming Commission. Several have already been approved for upstate. Jake's 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia and Aqueduct Raceway's Resorts World Casino in Queens already have video slot machines and electronic table games, but full, class-III live table games have not yet been licensed or approved downstate.

“No decision will be made until that study has been completed and thoroughly reviewed,” the Gaming Commission spokesman said.

The Shinnecock Council of Trustees, in a statement released to Newsday, said the joint venture with Seminole Hard Rock and Tri-State Partners will develop a “world-class entertainment destination,” an initiative that will “further [the nation’s] inherent sovereignty through economic growth and development.”

The NIGC and the Seminole tribe didn’t return calls seeking comment. Tri-State could not be reached. 

The partnership formalized this week is expected to create “hundreds of jobs and a revenue stream for the Shinnecock Nation and the State of New York,” the Shinnecock  trustees said.

“We ask the people of this great state to come forward and work with us to put away the ghosts of the past and a history marred with broken promises, theft and suffering,” the tribal council said in their statement. “In these troubling times everyone seeks economic growth and development. Together we can make a brighter future for the Shinnecock Nation and the citizens of New York.”

 The tribe after its 2010 federal recognition had worked with Detroit-based Gateway Casino Resorts with plans to open one or more casinos in the state, with sites eyed from Calverton to Queens, but the efforts ultimately failed to bear fruit. The nation has also previously explored a gaming facility at its 97-acre Westwoods property in Hampton Bays, but that highly cherished undeveloped property is not expected to be used for any future gaming sites. 

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