Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shinnecock say Potential for Vegas-Style Gaming in NY won't Threaten Belmont Plans


By Jackie Nash
Separate approvals announced recently by top Albany lawmakers for Vegas-style gambling induced a scare to the Elmont and surrounding communities, which have expressed large support for a casino at Belmont Park — a project plan that has been incubating for months, and is subject to negotiations between county and state officials and the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated in August that he felt New York should “come to grips” with the proliferation of casinos nationwide and begin cashing in on the industry, and allow non-Indian casinos in the state. Currently, the constitution only permits gambling on American Indian land, or through electronic slot machines at racetracks.

New Yorkers spend an estimated $3 billion gambling out-of-state annually.

For a constitutional amendment to be passed in New York, it is required to pass through both the House and Senate within in two legislative sessions, and then also pass a statewide referendum. Therefore, the earliest date that non-Indian casino gambling could be permitted in New York, if an amendment is proposed, is 2014…

…What would an amendment mean for Elmont?

According to the Shinnecock Nation, regardless of whether a proposal is made for an amendment — as well as whether that amendment leads to the construction of a casino at the Aqueduct — plans for the Belmont casino agenda will continue as expected and will not be impeded upon. And according to Randy King, chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Board of Trustees, since the potential gambling market in New York is so large, the Shinnecock tribe isn’t against bringing non-Indian casinos into the mix.

However, King said, allowing casino-development to continue under Native American leadership seems to be most beneficial to the state.

On Sept. 7, King provided testimony during a public hearing in the Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering — led by Sen. John J. Bonacic — to discuss the potential of a constitutional amendment relating to casino gaming in the state. It was the first time that King…

…Non-Indian gambling is not a new topic for the state. In 1997, a state constitutional amendment legalizing casino gambling was passed by the Democrat-controlled Assembly, but was halted in the Republican-controlled Senate… or (516) 569-4000 ext. 214.
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