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Shinnecocks to consider revisiting casino proposals

The Shinnecock Indian Nation will consider a plan to revisit its 13-year ambition to have one or more casinos after a 2015 bid request brought two viable proposals, according to tribal sources and documents.

In a recent note to tribal members, the nation’s council of trustees said it had authorized a referendum on the proposals on July 30, though it’s still uncertain if that vote will take place. Beverly Jensen, a spokeswoman for the tribe, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

The nation sent a request for proposals to 15 different gaming entities, received four proposals and settled on two: one from Good Ground Development and the other from Global Gaming Assets Management.

The tribe is considering proposals for Class II video slot machines and Class III full-table gaming. It’s still unclear whether the tribe would pursue gaming on its 800-acre reservation in Southampton, its Westwoods property in Hampton Bays, or other land it would purchase and put into trust.

In addition to allowing tribal members to vote on either of the gaming proposals, the referendum also will allow tribe members to vote to re-issue the request for proposals to find other potential bidders, or to put a stop to the gaming effort.

The tribe’s pursuit of gaming has been fraught with hope, conflict and ultimately disappointment. After gaining federal recognition in 2010 in an effort funded by Gateway Casino Resorts of Detroit, the tribe saw various proposals, including one for Belmont Park in Elmont, Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale and parcels in Suffolk, including Calabro Airport, rescinded or deemed inadequate.

Gateway, which spent in excess of $55 million in financing the tribe’s recognition effort, has since ended tribal subsidies, and its 2012 contract with the tribe, though on hold, could complicate any future casino deal.

Tribal leaders in a recent note to members acknowledged that the latest casino proposal is a “monumental decision that will have far-reaching effects on the generations to come.”

Leaders were to go door-to-door to present information on the proposals.

The prospect of a casino, while far from agreed upon by the entire tribe, is one of several economic development projects at the nation that seek to lift the fortunes of the reservation.

Earlier this year, the tribe worked with an outside firm, Conor Green, to explore the prospect of a medical marijuana production and dispensary facility. But a slow start to the market on Long Island has put the tribe’s plans on hold, according to a tribal source.

The casino plan has detractors who want to go slowly to avoid some of the missteps that scuttled previous plans.

In a Facebook posting this month, one tribe member implored the nation to delay a vote until a larger consensus around gaming was evident, the community was better prepared for the full implications of a gaming economy, and leaders were identified who would manage and negotiate gaming contracts.


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