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Shinnecock casino plans progressing for Long Island

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December 12, 2008

NEW YORK - As the Shinnecock Indian Nation get closer to federal approval of a casino on Long Island, the Suffolk County Legislature has proposed creating a gaming task force to help them find a suitable building site.

The Shinnecock are a state-recognized tribe seeking federal recognition that would allow them to conduct gambling on property they own if it is within commuting distance of their reservation. Their federal petition appears to be moving closer to a decision. In 2005 U.S. District Court Judge Thomas C. Platt determined that the Shinnecock were eligible for federal recognition, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been moving slowly with its process. When the new administration replaces the agency's personnel, many hope the process will accelerate.

As the Shinnecock move closer to federal recognition and the right to build a casino, Suffolk County legislators want to be part of the process. Presiding Officer of the Legislature Bill Lindsay and Legislator Wayne Horsley are cosponsoring a bill to create a gaming task force to work with the Shinnecock in finding a suitable site for a casino in the county.

"A gaming establishment on Long Island could be an economic jackpot for the county, for the construction industry and for job seekers," Mr. Lindsay said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Government leaders must seek new and innovative ways to generate revenues to address fiscal problems we face."

The legislation would create an 11-member task force consisting of county and town, planning, business and union representatives. In addition to finding a casino site, the task force would recommend strategies for dealing with traffic, emergency services, and social impacts.

No action is expected on the legislation before mid-January.

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