Cuomo wants to open casinos while negotiating with Oneidas

By ANDREW DONOVAN

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to resolve the long-standing Oneida Indian Nation land claim and create state-operated casinos Upstate at the same time.

Cuomo said the Indian casinos in the state could face competition from the state-owned ones if tribes and the state fail to reach agreements in the coming months. Governor Cuomo says they will not place their new casinos near casinos run by tribes in good standing with the state, as added incentive to negotiate.

Now, he is also in negotiations with the Senecas, Mohawks and Oneidas. Three of the six upstate regions Cuomo is looking at already have Indian casinos. Cuomo says Thursday he's working with the tribes to resolve existing issues, like revenue sharing with the state.

Cuomo said, "The Senecas have a decision to make. The Oneidas have a decision to make. The Mohawks have a decision to make. It's the same decision factors today as it's going to be in nine months. For the legislation to work, we need certainty and we need closure and we're going to need to know what we're doing in those regions."

Cuomo had already announced his support for Las Vegas-style casinos at unidentified locations upstate.

New York's State Constitution would need an amendment to allow casinos, requiring a public vote. That vote could come as early as November, but it was reported earlier that the vote could be held for 2014, when more state elections on the ballot would bring a better voter turnout.

Oneida Indian Nation CEO Ray Halbritter released the following statement to NEWSChannel 2: “We respect the governor's comments today on the complexities of the issues, and we are engaged in a constructive dialogue with his administration.”

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