Shinnecocks Look to Seminoles for Assistance

The star-crossed Shinnecock Nation of New York has turned to another supporter for assistance, the Seminole tribe, which dominates Florida’s gaming industry. The Shinnecocks want to build a casino on Long Island. The tribe split with previous benefactor, Michael Malik in 2012.

Leadership from the Shinnecock Indian Nation have been communicating with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in hopes of building a mutually beneficial partnership which could right their ship. In 2003, Gateway Casino Resorts formed a partnership with the Shinnecocks, paying them nearly 0,000 a month while providing massive legal support.

The tribe has had a rocky history in regards to casino development, and Gateway has finally said enough is enough. The contracts with Gateway and its principal, Michael J. Malik, fell apart in 2012 with Gateway halting all payments to the tribe, which was used to pay the salaries of over two dozen tribal employees. Through the near decade, it had been reported Gateway invested roughly $50 million in the Shinnecock’s casino effort, who’s partnership right was purchased from the tribe’s original development partner, Ivy K. Ong.

Early on in Shinnecock’s push for a casino, a market study conducted by Ong determined a casino on Long Island had the potential to show $1 billion in annual profits just 10 years after launch. While many in the tribe salivated at the prospect, most thought it would be logical to start off building smaller casinos, to get their feet wet, and generate revenue while plans for a larger Vegas-style casino and hotel property were being developed.

Malik, who from the beginning was set on building a mega Class III casino-resort near New York, did not agree with the logic. While building a smaller Class II facility could be developed much quicker, revenues would need to be built gradually, something he had no intention of being a part of.

Tribe members also are kept in the dark in regards to the casino plans, and according to one tribe member, “They’re told very little with regard to the details of anything. Nothing is explained clearly. They are just given something to vote on, and most people are only going by what they’ve heard, just around.”

In October, the tribe voted to disband their five-member Gaming Authority, which was established to oversee their casino effort while handling negotiations with non-native casino partners. The vote came after it became known an FBI investigation into the Gaming Authority and some of its members took place. Mere weeks after the investigation inside the Shinnecock Reservation, offices and the home of one authority member were destroyed in what investigators are calling an intentionally set fire. At this time, no arrests or charges have been filed in relation to the FBI investigation or the arson.