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Thiele Tells Cuomo to Engage in Shinnecock Casino Talks

Governor wants to wait until after a public referendum on new casinos before talking to the Shinnecock Indian Nation about a facility on Long Island.

With five Indian-run casinos already established in New York State, told Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter last week that the time to talk with the about a Shinnecock casino on Long Island is now.

The letter came after Cuomo made a remark earlier this month that it would be “unrealistic” for the state to entertain talks with the Shinnecocks, who have a reservation in Southampton, prior to a public referendum on allowing seven new casinos around New York. The vote on a constitutional amendment is expected no sooner than fall 2013. The Shinnecock Tribal Trustees , and said they should not have to wait for commercial gaming to be approved when they are already permitted to engage in gaming under the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Shinnecock tribe received federal recognition in 2010, and set sites on a casino that will afford the nation economic opportunities.

Thiele, I-Sag Harbor, wrote, “With the recent announcement that the original plan to construct a convention center and casino at Aqueduct is now off the table and that your office will be examining other options, I wanted to take this opportunity to urge you to meet with the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s leaders to hear their plans and to consider where the interest of the State of New York and the Shinnecock may intersect.”

But Thiele stated that he is not in favor of casinos in general.

“Personally, I have never been a supporter of casino gambling as a means of economic development,” Thiele wrote. “In my opinion, the negatives outweigh the positives. Casino gaming does not create wealth, it redistributes it.”

Acknowledging that casinos will continue to be a part of state policy discussion despite how he feels about them, Thiele said he is respectful of the Shinnecocks’ sovereignty and pursuit of a casino site in western Long Island.

“I believe that now is the time for your office to explore these options and urge you to meet with the Shinnecock at your earliest convenience," Thiele concluded.

He copied the letter to , Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Senator Kenneth LaValle.

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