Shinnecock Citizens Reject Gateway Casino Agreement

Shinnecock Citizens Reject Gateway Casino Agreement

Gale Courey Toensing
12/20/11

A majority of Shinnecock Indian Nation members rejected a controversial gaming agreement with its longtime financier, Detroit-based Gateway Casino Resorts, in a referendum December 15.

Members were asked to vote yes or no on authorizing the Board of Trustees to enter into a non-interference and enabling agreement that would hand over to the tribe’s gaming authority the ability to make all casino decisions with Gateway on the tribe's behalf without any input from the members. The agreement was defeated by a vote of 153-121. The scandal-plagued Gateway has investing millions of dollars in the tribe over the past eight years.

The elected three-member Board of Trustees issued a statement indicating they intend to continue pursuing a relationship with Gateway. “While some may want to put their own spin on this vote, the elected leadership of the Shinnecock Indian Nation remains committed to the eight-year partnership we have had with Gateway and remains committed to pursuing economic opportunities for our people, including off-reservation gaming on Long Island. We have made tremendous strides in these last eight years and will not turn back now,” the trustees said. The board includes Chairman Randy King and trustees Gerrod T. Smith and Frederick C. Bess.

Opponents of the agreement were concerned that the contract with Gateway, which included among other things a waiver of tribal immunity, would erode the tribe’s sovereignty and would give Gateway too much of the tribe’s revenues. The proposed agreement stipulated that Gateway would keep 28 percent of monthly casino revenues.

Lance Gumbs, a former trustee, was a vocal opponent of the Gateway agreement, said he voted against the agreement. "Gateway needs to understand that they are not going to control our tribe," Gumbs said.

A detailed story will follow.

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