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City Rejected Mets’ Owners Pitch for Queens Casino Operated by Shinnecocks


Mets’ owners and the Shinnecock Indian Nation planned to join forces to launch a Las Vegas-style casino next to the Citi Field ballpark in Flushing, New York, reported The New York Post on February 5.

In September 2011, Sterling Equities—the real estate company operated by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and family—proposed building a casino-resort next to the Major League Baseball stadium, operated by the Southampton-based tribe, reported ESPN.go. Sterling Equities offered the city $100 million for the 62-acre Willets Point development site in Queens. Mets' owners had hoped the gaming facility would help them recover their $162 million lost in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, but they have since settled a lawsuit in their favor to help them recoup some of those funds.

Currently, New York prohibits live-dealer bets off tribal lands, so a casino was rejected by the Bloomberg administration, reported The Administration instead awarded Sterling 23 of the 62 acres of city-owned land they sought in their casino proposal to build a $3 billion retail and entertainment complex without a casino.

"The submission that included a gaming use was quickly dismissed as unviable," a spokesman with the city's Economic Development Corp. told the Post. "A different plan is now moving through the approvals process for a project that will create a dynamic new destination, hundreds of units of affordable housing, and thousands of jobs."

The development, announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in June, calls for a 1-million-square-foot mall, hotel, market-rate and affordable apartments, and office space, reported.

The project will likely not break ground until 2014, after several junkyards on the premises are cleared, the Post reported.

Meanwhile, the New York State Legislature is considering a constitutional amendment, introduced last year, to allow the building of up to seven new non-Indian casinos in New York, including dealer-run table games, reported Crain’s New York. While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed limiting new casinos to three in upstate, excluding Long Island and Manhattan, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has touted opening casinos in "less densely populated" areas of New York City boroughs, such as Willets Point and near Aqueduct (home to the Genting Group-owned racino Resorts World Casino), reported The Huffington Post. For a constitutional amendment to become effective, lawmakers would have to support the amendment again this year, and voters would have to approve it in a statewide referendum that would likely take place in November.

The New York Post's report of the Mets-Shinnecock failed collaboration on a Queens casino comes amidst news about controversy surrounding Shinnecock tribal leadership. A panel of former Tribal Trustees and Shinnecock members have charged four people formerly acknowledged as tribal officials with improperly concealing business negotiations pertaining to the purchase of thousands of Long Island acres including the Nassau Coliseum. 

The tribal tumult has prompted the Detroit-based Gateway Casino Resorts, which planned to build three casinos on Long Island with the Shinnecocks, to pull its monthly stipends of $250,000 to the tribe, reported The money funded tribal operations and paid the salaries of two-dozen members employed at the tribal offices.