Southampton sees casino plan as tribe’s bargaining chip

Town supervisor suspects Shinnecock Nation wants license for larger venue elsewhere

Tri-State /
Feb.February 25, 2021 03:30 PM
Shinnecock Indian Nation Chairman Bryan Polite and an aerial of Shinnecock Nation in Southampton (Linkedin, Google Maps)

Shinnecock Indian Nation Chairman Bryan Polite and an aerial of Shinnecock Nation in Southampton (Linkedin, Google Maps)

The Shinnecock Nation would surely drop its plan for a Southampton casino if the state granted it a license to open a larger gambling venue elsewhere, a town official surmised.

That assessment, by Southampton town supervisor Jay Schneiderman, is to a large extent conventional wisdom: The Shinnecock’s Southampton reservation is far from ideal for a casino, both from the tribe’s perspective and the town’s.

“I do think if they could get a commercial license for another site, they would take this off the table,” Schneiderman said, according to Dan’s Papers. “The governor’s going to be handing out three commercial licenses for downstate [casinos] and they’re certainly trying to get one of them. I think that this [Southampton plan] is their way of saying, ‘If we don’t get one, we’re building at the reservation.’”

Locals fear a Southampton casino — even the small, dealer-less one approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission — would exacerbate traffic congestion on Montauk Highway. And the tribe would surely appreciate the vastly greater revenue that a full-fledged casino somewhere else would generate. A Southampton casino would compete with the more ideally located Jake’s 58 Casino Hotel in Islandia, which opened in 2017.

The longtime political calculus has been that moving ahead with the problematic Southampton site would give the Shinnecock Nation leverage to get state approval to build on another site. Previous plans for Southampton casinos, in 2003 and 2011, fell through, but the Cuomo administration’s plan to allow three downstate casinos — including table games — provides a new opportunity.

[Dan’s Papers] — Erik Engquist





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