Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ilitch team out in full force with New York Casino gambling partner

Key members of Team Ilitch Gambling (Marian Ilitch's partner Michael J. Malik, Sr., and one of their senior Indian gaming attorneys R. Lance Boldrey of the Dykema Gossett firm) were out in full force with tribal leaders representing their New York casino development partner the Shinnecock Indian Nation at a 2009 New York Gaming Conference held in Sarasota Springs last week.

In an article published 7.01.09, "Shinnecocks still face obstacles in casino bid," Michael Wright in The Southampton Press reports:

At a gaming industry conference in Saratoga Springs last week, a host of industry veterans and members of other Native American tribes from around the state said—often with wry smiles—that they’re not holding their breath for a Shinnecock casino to open. Nonetheless, the tribe and its prospects for a casino on Long Island, or in the shadow of New York City, were a popular topic of conversation.

The tribe sent a 10-member contingent to the New York Gaming Summit, including Michael Malick [sic], co-owner of the Detroit-based casino development company [Gateway Casino Resorts] that has been funding the tribe’s legal battles over its gaming future since 2003. Also at the conference were the five salaried members of the tribe’s gaming authority, Tribal Trustee Fred Bess, former Trustee Lance Gumbs—who has been the most vocal member of the tribe in the casino effort—and at least two of the tribe’s attorneys.

In his keynote speech at the two-day conference, John D. Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, focused on the Shinnecock casino bid, and the speculation the court settlement spawned. And in his remarks he seemed to warn the Shinnecocks that other tribal and private gaming prospects have seemed imminent in the past, and ended up languishing for decades.
The article featured these photos in a related image gallery:

Shinnecock Tribal Trustee Fred Bess (right) and Michael Malik (left) the controversial Detroit-based casino syndicator who along with Mrs. Marian Ilitch has reportedly formed the syndication, Gateway Casino Resorts, that's been bankrolling the tribe's drive for a casino since 2003.

Lance Boldrey (center) an attorney with the Michigan-based Dykema Gossett law firm and who represents various Detroit-based Indian gambling affiliates of partners Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik, chats with Shinnecock Tribal Trustee Lance Gumbs (left) and John D. Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Industry experts not optimistic about Ilitch Shinnecock plans for New York Casino


Tribe told not to expect quick results on gaming

By Michael Wright
The East Hampton Press

A settlement of a key portion of a legal battle between the Shinnecock Indian Nation and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs fed widespread media speculation that the Shinnecocks and their Detroit-based financial backers [Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr.] are now on a fast track to opening a gaming facility in New York City or on Long Island.

But even though a court-ordered ruling on the tribe’s federal recognition application—the key step to gaming rights—is due by December, and the tribe could get the federal go-ahead by mid-2010, many in the New York gaming industry say the hurdles Shinnecocks face are numerous, and significant.

At a gaming industry conference in Saratoga Springs last week, a host of industry veterans and even members of other Native American tribes from around the state said—often with wry smiles—that they’re not holding their breath for a Shinnecock casino to open. Nonetheless, the tribe and its prospects for a casino on Long Island, or in the shadow of New York City, were a popular topic of conversation.

The Shinnecocks’ casino bid and the speculation that the court settlement spawned were a main focus of the keynote speech given by John D. Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board at the two-day New York Gaming Summit. He said that gaming prospects have seemed imminent in the past and ended up languishing for decades.

“I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk that they even get federal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of the Interior,” Mr. Sabini said of the Shinnecocks in his keynote speech. “There are no sure things in gaming. This involves a lot of moving parts at the federal level.”

In an interview, Mr. Sabini noted that earning federal recognition is just the first step in a complicated battle for the tribe to get rights to a casino operation. He nodded to the cautionary tales told by the leaders of three other Native American tribes—the Seneca, Oneida and St. Regis Mohawks—all of whom have had federal recognition for 
years, even decades, and are still fighting to get approval for casinos that they thought would be open for business years ago.

“Some newspapers said [the court settlement] would mean they have the inside track for Belmont. There’s so much between here and there,” Mr. Sabini said, of a report that the tribe had expressed interest in a gaming facility adjacent to the Nassau County horse racing venue. “[State Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver has been clear—he doesn’t want gaming there.”

The State Legislature has already approved gaming through the use of up to 4,500 video lottery machines, or VLTs, at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens. State representatives of the areas surrounding Belmont Racetrack have also introduced proposals to allow gaming—a potential tax revenue bounty—in their backyard as well. But Mr. Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan in the State Assembly, has sworn he will never support gaming at the Belmont property.

In 2007, shortly after the state opened bidding on the Aqueduct gaming contract, the tribe proposed a $1.4 billion casino and hotel adjacent to the Queens racetrack. But at last week’s state gaming conference, Bill Murray, the deputy director of the New York Lottery, which will license any future gaming operations at the racetrack, said that the state is close to deciding on one of the seven official bidders for gaming there. The Shinnecocks are not on the list of bidders—though the development company Delaware North, which sponsored the gaming conference, is. Mr. Murray said the decision on the contract will be made in a matter of weeks, effectively eliminating the Shinnecocks, since the tribe will not receive federal recognition until 2010 at the earliest.

Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Trustee Fred Bess turned a bit of the naysayers’ own warnings back on them, though, with regard to the Aqueduct proposal.

“Things take a long time to happen,” he said when asked if Aqueduct was off the tribe’s radar because of the timeline Mr. Murray suggested. “Once we take care of our federal recognition application, we’ll see where things stand.”

This is the first part of a three-part series on the Shinnecock Indian Nation and its possible future in the gaming industry.

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