Creating casino legislation in New York is a little bit like going for a run knee deep in nutella (mmm…nutella). After kissing and making up with the Oneida Indian Nation, the St. Regis Mohawks and the Seneca Nation of Indians it seemed that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s casino expansion plans were back on track. That was until a recent challenge from the Cayuga people has threatened to derail it before it even gets started.
Legal representatives of the Cayuga people have asked to join a federal lawsuit that will be the final jigsaw piece in the settlement that Cuomo and his team started negotiating with the Oneida Indian Nation back in May. During those negotiations it was agreed that the Oneidas would share their casino revenue with the state – valued at $50m per annum – in exchange for a casino monopoly through an area spanning 10-counties.
The spanner that the Cayuga people are throwing into the works is saying that the area of land in question includes Cayuga County, where two-thirds of the nation resides. The simple argument they pose is that offering another tribe exclusive casino rights in their reservation is illegal.
“It’s being suggested that the Cayuga Nation is the roadblock to world peace,’ said the Cayuga Nation lawyer, David DeBruin. “We are objecting to a provision that is illegal. We need to be here to be heard, and that is all we want – to be heard.”
Cuomo made it clear to the Oneida Tribe that in order for the deal to progress the tribe had to drop their legal challenges over land claims. This included a challenge to the federal government over the granting of 13,000 acres of trust land to the Oneidas. The Oneida land claim that was once endorsed by the Supreme Court was after 300,000 acres.
The Cayuga people are asking to join this land claim suit, and if accepted could lead to more delays in process.
“It will create an unworkable mess,” said attorney Mike Smith in federal court Syracuse. “This settlement would be suspended animation for years.”
The Cayuga’s are trying to negotiate their own deal to open a casino in Cayuga County, and believe the settlement would forbid the governor from being able to agree to one.
Magistrate Judge, David Peebles, has said he will issue his report by mid-September. The Cayuga interjection comes just days after Cuomo signed the Upstate Gaming Economic Development Act, which would act as the guide for the siting of the four upstate destination casino resorts, if the state voters approve the plans in the fall.
Potential For New Indian Casino in Madera County
Has California Gov. Jerry Brown overstepped his authority by reaching an Indian gaming compact with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to allow them to build a new Indian Casino and Resort in the county of Madera? That’s the question that now sits on the desk of Madera County Superior Court Judge, Michael Jurkovich, and an answer will be expected before the turn of the year.
The gambling watchdog ‘Stand Up For California’, who claim that the governor over stepped the mark by agreeing to allow the tribe to obtain off-reservation land to build the new casino, is supporting the challenge. This process was made possible after the governor moved the land into a federal Indian trust because he believed that the tribe had a ‘historical connection with the land’.
This process is known as ‘concurrence’ and it’s alleged that Gov. Brown’s position – as powerful as it may be – does not hold these powers. The contract for the build has been handed to Station Casinos, and it’s believed the project will cost upward of $200m.
Jurkovich is expected to make his decision sometime in October.