Casino Site Selected, Or Is It?

According to an article that appeared in The New York Post on Monday, the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s Gaming Authority has chosen an enormous 260,000-square-foot warehouse on 26 acres—the size of five football fields—just off Exit 66 on the Long Island Expressway as the site of their long-planned gambling casino.

The Post quotes “a source close to the process,” with providing them with this information.
The property is currently owned by Rechler Equity, and is rented to a paper products company. It was originally built in 1989 as a regional warehouse for Estee Lauder, which had its headquarters on Long Island at that time. It also has parking for 800 cars, and there is a further 20 acres of vacant land adjacent, which could be used for further expansion. [expand]

In many ways, the selection of this property, if true, is something very much to cheer about. The Shinnecocks, recently awarded Federal Recognition which gives them the right to arrange ownership of a gambling casino, have heard loud and clear from Hamptons residents that they think the South Fork is too fragile to handle a giant undertaking such as this without causing a major change in the character of the community. But the tribe also does not want a casino close, for the same reason. They could easily accommodate one on their 600-acre reservation, which is just a mile from the center of downtown Southampton, but that would change them forever too.
On the other hand, the Shinnecocks do not want a casino so far away that it is impossible for the tribe to keep close tabs on the running of it. Other places mentioned have been in Hempstead, in Queens and at the Belmont Racetrack.

This location though, besides its perfect location, is sited in an economically challenged area and is accessible along the largest transportation artery on the island—the Long Island Expressway—and is an existing building, which means that the problems and costs of creating an entirely new structure are no longer an issue.

Incidentally, the recognition does not guarantee the Shinnecocks a casino that will make a profit, it only guarantees them the right to own one. It could just as easily be run at a loss.

Another aspect of recognition is that although others can help finance and buy stock in a Shinnecock-owned casino—needless to say the Shinnecocks, impoverished all these years, do not have the means to do this all by themselves—all such financial help must be either paid back or sold off within six years, at which time the Shinnecocks are on their own.

And still another aspect of Federal Recognition is that an off-site casino requires the special approval of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, something not often granted.

The trouble with the selection of this site, however, is that although this article appeared in The Post on Monday, on Tuesday, when I contacted the tribe’s public relations office, the director there, Beverly Jenson, told me that the Shinnecock Gaming Authority has not yet picked this site. Just to be sure, she then contacted the Commissioner of the Gaming Authority, who she had just talked to the day before, to see if she was just out of the loop and she called me back to say that no, she was not. No decision had been made. She also said that even if the Gaming Authority does make a selection, it still has to be voted upon by the entire tribe, which consists of about 1,200 people.
There has been a lot of concern in recent days about what gets reported on as news. There was a story that appeared in USA Today a few days ago about 20 to 30 dismembered bodies found buried in East Texas. This had not been true. Reporters looking into how this could have gotten into the news found that it had become a fact almost by osmosis, through Facebook and Twitter and news aggregators, which then doubled back and became an actual but inaccurate police report in the town where it was supposed to have happened.

Another report, this Sunday, concerned itself with the apparent kidnapping of a gay Syrian woman who for many years has been blogging about events that have been unfolding in that country. People in many countries were shocked. But when that was looked into it turned out that this blogger was actually an American man living in Scotland who had been filing these reports for years as part of his attempts to hone his skills as a fiction writer.

In any case, this reporter hopes that the Shinnecocks do go ahead with a casino off the reservation, not on the South Fork and not too far away. It will do them a world of good financially if they do this, it will help the economy in a part of Long Island that has for years been economically depressed and it will be easily accessible to 13 million people in a radius of just 70 miles. [/expand]

BACK TO Dan Rattiner's Stories