Shinnecock Nation Strikes Deal with Seminole Hard Rock for New York Casino

Posted on: September 3, 2020, 03:54h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2020, 05:35h.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation has entered into a strategic partnership with Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment and casino developer Tri-State Partners. The deal is part of the tribe’s renewed bid to enter the New York casino market.

Shinnecock Tri-State Partners
The Shinnecock Indian Nation campaigned for federal recognition for 30 years. Now it wants a casino near New York City. (Image: Shinnecock Nation/Facebook)

The tribe has sought to develop a casino since 2007, which became more achievable after its hard-won federal recognition in 2010. That came after a 30-year fight for its right to exist as a sovereign entity, a campaign that included suing the US Department of the Interior.

Now, all three parties have their eyes on the prize: a full-fledged Class III casino within striking distance of New York City, which would have the potential to become one of the most lucrative in America.

“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.

Casino in the Hamptons?

Federal recognition gives the Nation the right to organize Class II gaming on its reservation, which is defined as bingo-style games and poker. The tribe could also offer full-blown Class III casino gaming on its sovereign land, provided it negotiated a compact with the state.

The Shinnecock’s modest reservation lies at the entrance to the Hamptons, where many of New York’s elite have summer vacation homes.

A gaming facility on the reservation would be a lucrative prospect. With the exception of Genting’s Resorts World New York at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, which is slots and electronic table games only, it would be the only casino within the New York metropolitan area.

But the tribe knows that a Las Vegas-style casino in the Hamptons would mar the area’s natural beauty and would almost certainly face legal resistance. Instead, it wants to work with the state to establish an off-reservation, Class III casino at an as-yet undecided location.

Upstate, Downstate

New York State has eight tribal casinos and four commercial casinos, all located upstate. These properties have struggled since they opened in 2016 and 2017, the fruit of a 2013 public referendum to authorize casino gaming.

But a full-blown casino closer to the city is the dream of every major operator in America, and there are signs the state may be slowly coming round to the idea.

It has commissioned a study to determine the “economic feasibility and overall impact of granting additional casino licenses downstate,” although the state gaming commission has said that no decision will be made until the study is finished and thoroughly reviewed.