The Shinnecock Indian Nation has just taken a significant step forward in its decade-long mission to open a tribal casino venue in New York.
After receiving federal recognition as a sovereign tribe in 2010, the Shinnecock – who occupy a reservation in the region of Southampton – have the right to operate Class II casinos within their territory. These venues can legally offer 18+ casino gambling.
Unfortunately, Class II casinos do not feature remotely the same kinds of casino games that Class III casinos do. In fact, they can scarcely be considered casinos at all.
Per the IGRA, the federal law that establishes the scope of Class II tribal gaming, such venues are not allowed to offer slots or table games like you’d expect from any proper commercial casino.
They are instead limited to bingo, raffles, non-banked card games, and VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals), which offer simulated slot-like experiences but are technically lotteries.
Thus, even if the Shinnecock do open a Class II venue in New York, you will not be able to participate in any of most of the popular gambling amusements.
If you want to try your luck with traditional slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, and hosted poker games where the house takes a cut of the pot, you’re out of luck.
However, the Shinnecock are aiming to offer Class III gambling in New York, and in order to do so, they have announced a partnership with Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment.
But in order to operate a Class III venue, the tribe must have a powwow with state officials and hammer out a binding compact. They have the right to seek that meeting, but the state also has the right to delay it.
And New York, for its part, is taking a “wait and see” approach on all expanded gambling after authorizing four upstate commercial casinos by voter referendum in 2013.
So far, those new casinos, which only opened within the last couple of years, have not generated the desired economic impact for the state, and sports betting – which is also available at these venues – has not moved the needle in any appreciable way.
This is particularly true in 2020, with the coronavirus lockdowns completely shuttering commercial operations (which are slated to reopen September 9).
It may be some time before New York is ready to authorize any new venues that might compete with these casinos.
Nevertheless, with the Hard Rock alliance, the Shinnecock have one of the best casino operators on their side, and they are asking the local community to back their plans.
In a statement to Newsday, the Shinnecock Tribal Council explained why casino gaming is so important to their 660-member nation:
“We ask the people of this great state to come forward and work with us to put away the ghosts of the past and a history marred with broken promises, theft and suffering. In these troubling times everyone seeks economic growth and development. Together we can make a brighter future for the Shinnecock Nation and the citizens of New York.”
Of course, again, if you’re between the ages of 18 and 20, it won’t matter whether the Shinnecock succeed in opening a proper brick-and-mortar casino, as the legal age to gamble within will be 21 rather than 18 years old.
Additionally, NY does not offer online gambling opportunities inside its borders, nor does it offer online sports betting or online poker.
Fortunately for 18+ gamblers in NY, you don’t actually have to wait until you’re 21 or until New York gambling laws are passed to allow Internet-based gambling of any kind.
Whatever your favorite game or betting market, you can already make your wagers legally and safely over the Internet by using an online international casino operating outside of NY and US jurisdiction.
Sites like Bovada, BetOnline, and SportsBetting AG all allow New York residents to sign up and play real-money online casino games safely and legally.
These sites feature literally hundreds of RNG-certified electronic casino games, live table games with real dealers for blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, full international sportsbooks and racebooks, and legitimate 18+ online poker rooms with cash tables and tournaments that can pay out anywhere from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand dollars.
Still, after you become a member at one of these sites and get access to all the gambling you could ever want, it’s probably best to also support the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s initiatives to expand gambling in New York.
Even if that means playing a few rounds of bingo and having a root beer while you blot out those numbers.
Sources: Newsday, National Indian Gaming Commission