Shinnecock Nation Revives Southampton Casino Plans With Latest Deal

Posted on September 8, 2020

Nearly all the pieces are in place for a new Shinnecock Nation casino in Southampton. That is, except for one of the most important pieces; a gaming compact with New York.

Despite two crucial partners, it seems the tribe won’t be able to negotiate a compact with the state anytime soon. Actually, there’s no telling when that might be an option right now.

Why a Shinnecock Nation casino is seemingly on the doorstep

A typical path for indigenous tribes to operate a full-blown casino begins with having the land to place such a facility on. The Shinnecock Nation already checked that box with its reservation in the southern part of New York.

At that point, the Shinnecock Nation had some decisions to make. It could opt to develop the land and operate the casino itself, or partner with other entities to do that on its behalf.

The tribe opted for the latter on both fronts. Hard Rock Seminole Entertainment will operate the casino and Tri-State Partners will handle development.

The terms of both deals were not disclosed, but the norm in these situations are revenue-sharing agreements.

The Nation has not formed a Class III gaming compact with the US Dept. of the Interior. The US National Indian Gaming Commission approved its plans, however.

That commission is essentially a trade organization for tribal casinos.

It’s unlikely the Nation will take much action on negotiations with the Interior until New York is ready to do the same. At this point, there’s no telling when that may be.

Why New York may slow the roll on this casino

It appears the state’s gaming commission is in no mood to talk about a new tribal casino near Southampton right now. That’s because the commission is engaged in an in-depth study on the ramifications of gambling expansion in the state.

That study has already seen significant delays. About a year ago, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) essentially started over on the project, which set the commencement of the study back to December 2019.

Right now, there’s no firm timeline for completion. Until it is complete, however, it’s unlikely the commission will talk turkey with the Nation.

“No decision will be made until that study has been completed and thoroughly reviewed,” said an NYSGC spokesman.

Although tribal casinos do enjoy a great deal of sovereignty with how they run things once those compacts are in place, hence why tribal casinos in New York reopened months before commercial casinos, they are still bound by the terms of those deals.

Those terms govern things like the exact location of casinos and revenue sharing.

For now, the Shinnecock Nation seems to have done just about all it can to make its casino a reality. Now, everyone involved in the project can hurry up and wait.

Photo by Getty
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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