Casino unlikely for Southampton

Dec 29, 2009 2:46 AM

Wall Street bankers and Hollywood types have spent millions acquiring their summer home in toney Southampton, Long Island, N.Y. But, many probably never realized that their neighbors along a narrow strip on the waterfront are the Shinnecock Indians.

For a number of years, the Shinnecock Tribe wanted to improve their way of life by opening a casino. Something like the Senecas in northern New York or the Mohegans and Pequots in Connecticut.

First, however, they need federal recognition, something that is being expedited by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington. Second, they need a piece of land that would be attractive to casino patrons.

It’s obvious to tribal members, as well as their well-to-do neighbors that their reservation land in Southampton isn’t appropriate. Just how far away they can go to find a suitable piece of land has been the key question facing tribesmen and town officials.

Someone has suggested that they look up the road apiece to Nassau County where sits beautiful Belmont Park, now owned by the state of New York.

The state legislature has approved video lottery machines for Aqueduct racetrack but not for Belmont Park. After eight years of trying, however, political bigwigs have been unable to settle on a slots operator for Aqueduct.

Maybe, out of need, the 500 Shinnecock members currently on the reservation, would move faster. Also, a revenue sharing deal such as the one that exists in Connecticut, would be easily accomplished.

Instead of just having slot machines, Beautiful Belmont could be a full-fledged casino. Wouldn’t that be something!