Interior: Oneida's gaming compact valid

VERONA, N.Y. - The Department of the Interior has decided that the Oneida Indian Nation of New York's Turning Stone Resort and Casino will remain open.

OIN announced June 13 that Interior decided not to withdraw its approval of the nation's 14-year-old gaming compact with New York. The department decided to review the compact after several court decisions had ruled it illegal.

A letter to OIN from Interior Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason stated that challenges to an approved compact must be made within six years of publication, in this case by June 16, 1999. ''Since no one challenged the Secretary's decision in a timely manner or in the proper forum, the 1993 Compact continues to be in effect,'' Cason stated.

The Oneida Nation held a press conference June 13 to share the good news with local news media and employees. (Indian Country Today is owned by Four Directions Media, a business enterprise of OIN.)

''The determination by the Department of the Interior reaffirms what we have always known: our compact is valid and the enterprises of the nation will continue to grow and prosper,'' OIN Representative Ray Halbritter said.

''This should put to rest for all time any question about the validity of the gaming compact,'' according to a statement from OIN. ''The state challenges should be no more. The uncertainty and anxiety experienced by our 5,000 employees and their families are over.''