Bingo: Shinnecocks Find Answer

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which voted in December to end its longtime partnership with Gateway Casino Resorts, are now pushing to begin smaller-scale, Class II gaming on its Southampton reservation.

Class II gaming is typically defined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act as bingo. A tribe has to meet fewer logistical conditions to begin Class II gaming than to facilitate Class III gaming. Until now, the tribe has mostly pushed to build a large-scale Class III gaming facility.

The future of a Shinnecock casino with its high-stakes table games is still in limbo, as it requires various levels of state and federal approvals. But, there is a feeling within the tribe that Class II gaming would be able to take place on the reservation as soon as a hall can be built, if Shinnecock leaders can use their federally recognized status to seriously consider hosting the lower-level gaming.

“It’s ridiculous that we would sit and wait another three to five years for gaming to come, when we could be doing small-scale gaming now,” said Lance Gumbs, a former tribal trustee, according to Newsday. Gumbs is a member of the Shinnecock Coalition for Answers, a group who worked to block the deal with Gateway Casino Resorts.

“We’re talking about what the church is doing down the street,” he added, emphasizing how feasible and practical it could be for the Shinnecock tribe to play host to Class II gaming.

However, chairman of the tribal trustees Randy King has reportedly said that the tribe will remain on a course to institute Class III gaming. Plans have been in the works to construct a casino west of County Road 105 near Westhampton, possibly at Belmont Park and in Yaphank.

The hurried push for the Class II facility could indicate an impatience among tribal members at the slow pace of economic development on the reservation. According to sources, the desire for gaming is so rampant that the tribe was forced to issue cease and desist letters last month to shop owners on the reservation who had tried to open online gaming cafés.

If nothing else, a Class II gaming facility would be a source of excitement on the East End as the Hamptons settle into the quiet, post-holiday winter months. Bingo.

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