I Just Can’t Bring Myself to Be in Favor of a Casino

The Shinnecock Nation Tribal Trustees released a statement in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s comment that it would be “unrealistic” to open up a conversation about an Indian casino on Long Island.”

“What is ‘unrealistic’ is that we should have to wait two years for the possibility of the legalization of commercial gaming before a meeting of substance occurs with the governor to discuss Indian gaming, while commercial gaming corporations enjoy free access to present their gaming visions,” the Shinnecocks responded.

I have to respectfully disagree with a casino on Long Island for the Shinnecocks. The more I’ve thought about this, the more I oppose it. The tribe in my opinion, is completely misguided that a casino will make them rich. In my opinion, it will make a few of the leaders of the tribe a little bit of money, but in terms of the entire tribe benefitting, I mean, come on guys, you can’t be that misguided. That’s like saying that if Southampton Town suddenly decided to build a casino, then all of the residents/homeowners of Southampton Town would get rich.

I just don’t get where the blind desire comes from for a casino. Yes, other places have Indian casinos that do well, but guess what—there are places where casinos go bankrupt. And it is absolutely horrific how bankrupt they go. Even Donald Trump has managed to bankrupt a casino business. It’s not a sure thing. In fact, it’s practically a sure thing that a casino on Long Island would FAIL in my opinion, because the reality is that there is tremendous opposition for it.

What do the Shinnecocks think? That suddenly everybody will just throw money at the casinos instead of visiting the Hamptons during the summer? That suddenly, because a large casino is built, that magically all of the government red tape, the opposition, the greed within the tribe, the endless political and public relations nightmare will just disappear?

Casinos, as a business, are not sure bets. They are expensive to run, and they bring numerous problems into the communities they enter—increases in crime, more dramatic drug use and unethical behavior, and other longterm issues.

With all of that being said, I get the Shinnecocks side of the coin. They want to be rich like everybody else does, and I can see how they would be lead to believe that a large casino on Long Island is their salvation. I just don’t see it as that. I see it as an endless stream of both financial and political problems for them, and I also see it as a business that attracts people who do not care very much about the land they are visiting. Not really the thinking of a Shinnecock Indian, at least any that I’ve met. Now that I think about it, not the thinking of many eastern Long Islanders.

I consider myself a person who is a friend of the Shinnecocks. I’ve interviewed tribal leaders numerous times supporting just about any event that has been organized by the nation. I want the Shinnecocks to succeed. It bothers me that they don’t feel that they as a nation are being treated fairly in regards to building a casino. I just don’t think a casino is good for anybody on Long Island except for a very small group of entrepreneurs who are in love with the casino business.

In my opinion, the answer for the Shinnecocks isn’t a casino, but I doubt they’ll ever see it that way until they get one. If I were a leader there, I’d be looking to do something else that is more positive for people and that would get support from by nearly everybody. There is money in throwing concerts, for example—they are successful at doing that and did it on a whim last year. It’s a million times easier to do things like that, thanks to complete control over the  local laws on their land. Why not just keep going for that instead of pursuing something that is nothing but headaches and loaded with negatives?

What do you think?

 

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