The U.S. Department of the Interior in June affirmed its approval of the 1993 gaming compact between the Oneida Indian Nation and New York State, saying the agreement “continues to be in effect for purposes of the (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act)” and allowing the Oneidas' Turning Stone Resort and Casino to continue offering Class III gaming
The June 13 letter, signed by Associate Deputy Secretary James E. Cason, was the culmination of an unprecedented Interior Department review of the compact, sparked by New York State court rulings that declared the compact invalid because it hadn't been specifically approved by the New York State Legislature.
Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, who also serves as chief executive officer of Turning Stone and the Nation's various other enterprises, said the federal decision means the nearly 5,000 jobs the Nation has created are secure.
The determination “reaffirms what we have always known. Our compact is valid and the enterprises of the Nation will continue, grow and prosper,” Halbritter said. “It also means 5,000 hard-working men and women can count on their jobs for many years to come.”
State courts had ruled that the compact, signed in 1993 by Halbritter and then-governor Mario Cuomo, was invalid because it was not formally approved by the legislature. The Interior Department notified the state and the Oneidas in March that it would reconsider its initial approval of the compact - a step the department had never before taken. The compact itself has no expiration date and does not require the Oneidas to share revenues with the state.
In the 14 years since it opened, Turning Stone has grown from a modest gaming hall offering blackjack, roulette and craps to a full-service destination resort. Instant Multi-game machines, an account-based alternative to traditional slot machines, were introduced in 1995. In 1997, the first hotel opened at Turning Stone, and two years later the resort opened its first golf course.
It is now one of the top five tourist attractions in New York State, drawing more than 4.5 million visitors a year. In recent years, Turning Stone has added a slew of high-end amenities, including two AAA Four Diamond hotels and a Four Diamond restaurant, and three championship-caliber golf courses that have earned praise from golf pros and publications all over the country.
Turning Stone's high profile and reputation for excellence also has helped draw major events to Central New York, most notably the PGA TOUR, which will kick off its new Fall Series with the inaugural Turning Stone Resort Championship Sept. 17-23 at the resort's Atunyote Golf Club.
For more information on Turning Stone Resort & Casino, visit www.turningstone.com