The Southampton-based Shinnecock Indian Nation has floated ideas for a casino in New York since its 2010 federal recognition. Yesterday a Shinnecock exclusive to Newsday revealed the Nation is partnering with Tribal gaming giant Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment to make strategic moves on its decade-long plans.
The “fully vested” partnership to develop a “world-class entertainment destination” includes the Tribal parties and developer Tri-State Partners. The initiative will “further (the Nation’s) inherent sovereignty through economic growth and development,” Shinnecock Trustees told Newsday, while creating “hundreds of jobs and a revenue stream for the Shinnecock Nation and the State of New York.”
The 660-member Tribe has long identified gaming as a pathway to advance its economic agenda. The Tribe additionally operates the first solar oyster hatchery on the East Coast and sells outdoor advertising via a billboard with prime real estate along Highway 27 (also known as Sunrise Highway) in Southampton.
As Shinnecock Nation Vice President Lance Gumbs previously told Native Business, he approaches Tribal economic development with this business philosophy: the empty pie plate. “You fill that plate with slices of economic development,” he told Native Business. Each “slice” represents a diverse business, so the community won’t be solely reliant on one source of income.
Gumbs also told us he is a firm believer in inter-Tribal business dealings and in a balance between Tribal- and privately-owned businesses. So the Nation’s recent decision to join forces with a Tribal gaming behemoth aligns with his vision.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation’s announcement comes after the U.S. National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) approved its Tribal gaming ordinance on July 17th by default, as the NIGC Chairman took no action to approve or disapprove it within the required 90-day deadline. The Tribe can operate class II gaming on Tribal lands, and class III gaming on Tribal land or land taken into trust on behalf of the Tribe. Either way, the Shinnecock Indian Nation will need to negotiate a compact with the State of New York.
Under existing Tribal-state compacts in New York State, Indian casinos generally pay a tax of 25 percent of their gross gaming revenues from slots only in exchange for the state honoring each casino’s exclusive multi-county region in which to operate casinos. Four non-Tribally owned casino resorts have opened in Upstate New York since 2016, all located in areas not covered by Tribal exclusivity agreements with the state. The state is currently conducting an economic feasibility study to determine if it will award new licenses downstate.
“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.”