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Exclusive: Shinnecock Indian Nation's Plan To Develop Casino On Southampton Reservation Draws Concern From Locals

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The plans are generating buzz across the Hamptons. After 20 years of dashed hopes, the Shinnecock Indian Nation now says it can legally build -- and will open -- a casino on its reservation in Southampton village.

Controversial 61-foot digital billboard monuments on Sunrise Highway which were constructed on land and belong to the Shinnecocks will soon be advertising more than a welcome to the East End.

And, as CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported exclusively on Tuesday, residents say it's all anyone is talking about.

"I think it it will definitely create more traffic and chaos," resident Jeffrey Thompson said.

The 800-member tribe announced plans for a casino on its Southampton reservation -- a 900-acre sovereign territory that sits along Shinnecock Bay. The U.S. National Gaming Commission has approved Class 2 bingo parlors and video lottery terminals. The tribe is partnering with native gaming giant Tri-State Partners.

Shinnecock Indian Nation casino
(Photo: CBS2)

"For the business, it's going to be very good," one resident said.

"It's their property, so why not?" another person said.

"I'd like to learn more about it," another added.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele said he hopes the tribe reconsiders the location.

"I recognize their rights with regard to casino gaming, but up until now they've always attempted to pursue another site," said Thiele, a Democrat representing the East End.

The Shinnecock Nation has made multiple prior attempts to open a casino, in Hampton Bays, Calverton, Belmont Park, and at the Nassau Coliseum site, but those efforts failed to get off the ground.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman wants the federal government to require an environmental review of noise, traffic, air, and water.

"This is not economic development that I can support. I've never supported gambling. I don't think it's the right use, particularly at this property," Schneiderman said, adding, "It would be hard to find a worse property to locate a gaming facility."

The access is along scenic two-lane Montauk Highway, but can it handle thousands more vehicles?

"It's already hectic. It's already traffic in this village. So, it's the last thing this village needs," Southampton resident Arak Sya said.

The Shinnecock Nation's federal recognition was finalized a decade ago and now it plans to break ground within months a casino and then more. It hopes to create hundreds of jobs and a revenue stream for the tribe and the state.

More details about the plan will be out Wednesday and CBS2 will have an exclusive report on the News at Noon.

UPDATE Feb. 16, 8:50 p.m. -- An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment was partnering with the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment is not involved with the casino.


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