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Dec 14, 2011 11:44 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Discord Erupts Over Shinnecock Vote On Casino Partner's Future

Dec 14, 2011 12:02 PM

The Shinnecock Indian Nation is set to hold a pivotal vote on Thursday, on whether the tribe will continue its business relationship with Gateway Casino Resorts, the Detroit-based casino developers that have pumped millions of dollars in legal fees and salaries into the tribe over the last eight years in an effort to build a Shinnecock gaming facility.

But in the run-up to the vote, which could approve or reject a new contract with Gateway that was drafted by the tribe’s Gaming Authority, discord has arisen among tribal members over the involvement of Gateway principal Michael J. Malik and the future path of the casino effort in general. The Tribal Council has called for the vote to be canceled while it seeks an independent legal review of the new Gateway contract.

In what was supposed to be a confidential letter to tribal members this week, the Tribal Trustees called for the vote and urged the tribe to ratify the new contract. The letter is dated December 12, just four days before the vote was to be held—a period of time members of the Tribal Council apparently felt was not long enough for tribal members to familiarize themselves with the details of the 12-page contract.

“The Tribal Council is attempting to do its fiduciary responsibility of reviewing the documents with a third-party, unbiased legal council to advise the Nation and tribal leadership before this vote is to be taken,” a statement issued by the Tribal Council on Wednesday morning said. “We are disappointed with the Board of Trustees for forcing this time line and vote on the community before this evaluation is complete. The Tribal Council does not support the vote at this time.”

The tribe’s five-member Gaming Authority has outlined plans for up to three Shinnecock-run casinos on Long Island. This past summer, the tribe received the tacit support of Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano to be the primary developer of a new gaming facility at Belmont Race Track and unveiled sketches of a hotel, casino and entertainment complex adjacent to the famed horse racing venue. Over the last two years, the tribe has also been in discussions with Suffolk County leaders about possible sites for a casino, including parcels in Brookhaven and Riverhead towns.

The new contract with Gateway includes provisions that would have Mr. Malik and his partner, Marian Ilitch, wife of the billionaire founder of the Little Caesar’s pizza chain, continuing to finance more than two dozen salaried positions within tribal government, fund the tribe’s legal and consulting fees, and ultimately pay for the planning and construction of the hoped-for casino.

It would be the first time the Shinnecocks have renegotiated their agreement with Mr. Malik since he purchased the right to be the tribe’s partner from another casino developer, Ivy K. Ong, in 2003. Since that time, Mr. Malik has poured millions of dollars into the tribe’s legal battles, first over initial plans to use a Hampton Bays property owned by the tribe as a casino site—a proposal that has been abandoned—and then in its successful push to secure federal recognition more than a decade sooner than federal agencies would have allowed otherwise. The tribe has also waged court battles claiming contracts with Southampton’s early European settlers in which it gave up ownership of large swaths of Southampton Town were illegal—a claim widely seen as a tactic to win political support for a Shinnecock casino elsewhere.

“I believe the majority of the people will look at what Gateway has done for this community in supporting us and our efforts and livelihoods, with the jobs and the legal help and the federal recognition, and see that [Mr. Malik] has been a good business partner,” Tribal Trustee Fred Bess said this week. “The Trustees’ stance is that we have a good working relationship with our current developer, and we’re looking for their support to move to the next level. We feel that we’ve had many discussions with the membership on these issues, and we think the time is now.”

The letter from the Trustees says that they will not proceed in signing the contracts without the support of the full tribe and cannot enter into any binding agreements on possible sites for a Shinnecock casino, or the necessary compact with New York State, until the contracts with Gateway are affirmed.

The full text of the contract has been posted on a website called The Verifiable Truth, which does not identify its publisher. The website features stories and documents related to the gaming industry, and to Mr. Malik and Mrs. Ilitch specifically. Mr. Bess, however, confirmed the authenticity of the documents posted at the website.

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Mo Money, Mo Problems
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Dec 14, 11 12:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Town of Southampton is the biggest loser, a Marina / Casino on the water, here, in the Township, would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the town. But nooo.....
By rrc1049 (63), Bridgehampton on Dec 14, 11 1:43 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 14, 11 1:44 PM
2 members liked this comment
If getting an education and a job were easy for all tribal members, then the reservation wouldn't have so many alcohol and drug abuse problems, not to mention other symptoms of poverty.
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Dec 14, 11 3:01 PM
The reservation has a high concentration of pathologys because they don't own private property but kid themselves in to thinking they are preserving their ancient culture by living on a collectively owned land, and accumulating wealth becomes impossible. Gambling will provide stipends and/or jobs to many, a few clever people, along with the outside investors, will really cash in big (fostering resentment) and the pathologys will continue. Read up on whats happened on the reservations in Ct, not ...more
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 14, 11 9:22 PM
Oh and wait till someone decides to start kicking people out of the tribe (and off the gravy train) for having less discernible Native American ancestry than others. This has happened extensively on reservations out west when gambling revenues start rolling in.
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 14, 11 9:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Money money money.

Greed greed greed.

Attorneys attorneys attorneys.

Fiddle fiddle fiddle.

This could get a LOT more complicated real quickly!
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Dec 14, 11 6:01 PM
Not to be a lap dog, BUT..l

LMAO.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 14, 11 11:18 PM
Degenerate gamblers have no place in Southampton society.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Dec 14, 11 6:31 PM
3 members liked this comment
They are already a part of Southampton Society...every heard of OTB?
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Dec 14, 11 8:22 PM
Have you heard of Wall St and the stock market? Say hi to your neighbors! THOSE are the degenerate gamblers... playing with YOUR money.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 18, 11 9:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
If you don't want to invest, put your money someplace else besides the stock market.
By AFB (31), NYC/SH on Dec 24, 11 10:37 AM
so far in this debate rrc1049 is in the minority. P Stevens you know very well that the size of OTB is nothing like what a real casino would do to Southampton Town.
Use your brain. Lucy2 is right.
Plus the amount of land around Southampton is not equal to the land surrounding Foxwood etc or Las Vegas. Have you heard?, Vegas is not bringing in the $$$$ that it used to; that cash is going to Dubai. I doubt that the big money is going to go to the Hamptons. Unfortunately.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Dec 14, 11 9:05 PM
Shinnecocks,
Please build a world class golf course on the land in Hampton Bays. Hire a good mgt company who will hire tribe members, (surely they have the skill sets), and provide health insurance and 401Ks. The neighbors will love it as their property values will go up, and people will come from miles around and pay hundreds of dollars to play a world class public golf course on Peconic Bay with the Shinnecock name on it. That other golf club surely wont begrudge the name.
Cheers
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 14, 11 9:32 PM
2 members liked this comment
Yeah, build a world class golf course that caters to the 1%, gets massive tax cuts and contributes nothing to the local economy.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 15, 11 9:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
smacw, did you know that all the greens keepers, the workers keeping the course in good order have since the beginning in the 1890's worked at The Shinnecock Golf Course? That job and caddies in the beginning belonged to the local Indians.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Dec 15, 11 8:18 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 15, 11 10:58 PM
Given the low cost basis for the land, I'll bet they can price it so that a good 40% will be able to tee off there
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 15, 11 11:01 PM
There is no way the Shinnecock's will get a casino at Belmont Park. It doesn't matter what any local officials say, only new York State can permit this to happen. Right now, Resorts World New York City, located at Aqueduct, is regulated by New York State. The agreement with them gives a 30 mile exclusivity clause. I believe Belmont Park is only a few miles from Aqueduct. Secondly, facilities like Resorts World regulated by the state give almost double the profits back to the state than any ...more
By Walt (292), Southampton on Dec 14, 11 10:52 PM
Trustees don't get paid
By adczeta (78), southampton on Dec 17, 11 5:10 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By jim (48), hampton bays on Dec 14, 11 11:20 PM
Avarice, is the root of all evil.

Money, is just it's tool sometimes.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 15, 11 12:07 AM
I think I know how this story ends and its not happy. History repeats itself yet again. For the survival of what is left of the Shinnecocks, you should re-read your history books. The chaos that ensues weakens the strongest tribal ties and infiltrates every aspect of life on the reservation. The toxic and unsavory clientele will become your holy grail. And then what? You play with pigs, the pigs enjoy it and you get filthy. Would your ancestors have wanted you to build a bright lights big ...more
Dec 15, 11 6:35 AM appended by Brelane
You're funny. That one finger you have pointed at me is outnumbered by the 3 you have pointed directly at yourself, there in your mom's basement.
By Brelane (16), Southampton on Dec 15, 11 6:35 AM
Funny how folks outside of a community always try to portray themselves as authorities on that community.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 15, 11 9:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Excuse me but not every Shinnecock is a drug addict or troubled as a matter of fact our school principal is a Shinnecock as well as some of our schools most dedicated hard working teachers. Please stop sterotyping a whole group of people because of a bad few because despite what everyone thinks these people exist in every race and color in every town yes including rich southampton their just driving Mercedes....
By Crankypants (34), SOUTHAMPTON on Dec 15, 11 7:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
Are you kidding? Southampton's full of degenerate gamblers - only they're called Bankers and Hedge Fund Managers.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Dec 15, 11 10:37 AM
2 members liked this comment
a shinnecock tribal member once told me that the tribal members owning the areas located along old montauk highway where there are commercial ventures, smoke shops, and so on do not assist the members of the nation not as fortunate .... if this is true then what would be different if gambling casinos come to long island? addiction of any kind is a disease and a problem since addictions cause the addicted to think unclearly...so much of human struggle is man's inhumanity to man...tobacco companies ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 15, 11 11:32 AM
So some tribal members OWN their shop locations?
Ah tobacco, the Red mans revenge on us
How about that corrupt president from Chicago?
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 15, 11 11:05 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 15, 11 1:09 PM
The Shinnecocks pay no taxes use all taxpayers services for free, and now they want a casino? How about the millions they cheat the govt out of in taxes on cigarettes? They dont want too hurt the enviroment but they can build a casino and destroy the earth and the tribes fellow man? I think there are a greedy few, but overall the Shinnecocks are good decent people. They should help each other with the millions they collect from cigarettes. The reservation could be a goldmine without a casino if ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 18, 11 12:59 PM
I think you meant "resent" and some folks always resent others, even those who have less.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Dec 18, 11 2:16 PM
As part of giving the go ahead to any Shinnecock plans, on their land or elsewhere, an arrangement could be made for a PILOT program or Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Plenty of precedent for it such as in commercial leases to for profit companies occupying public property such as in the World Trade Center.
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 19, 11 10:10 AM
The Shinnecock's own the land in Hampton bays, they should be able to build their casino on it. The local governments have no jurisdiction or say over what native americans do with their land.
By Walt (292), Southampton on Dec 20, 11 11:33 AM
maybe more teepees and cigarette stores?
By AFB (31), NYC/SH on Dec 24, 11 10:38 AM