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Seneca-Cayuga of Oklahoma file appeal

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – The Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma is asking a federal appeals court for the authority to proceed with its plans for a bingo facility in Cayuga County.

The tribe filed an appeal in mid-May with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking it to overturn U.S. District Judge Neal McCurn’s dismissal of its request to construct the $25 million gaming hall on a 229-acre farm in Aurelius, 40 miles west of Syracuse.

Attorney Glenn Feldman said McCurn did not properly consider the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in his ruling on the tribe’s right to conduct Class II gaming.

Class II gaming includes bingo, pull tabs, lotto, punchboards, tip jars and certain card games. The Seneca-Cayugas currently operate a high-stakes bingo hall in northeastern Oklahoma.

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It was coincidence, Feldman said, that the Oklahoma tribe filed its appeal May 15, the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the 2nd Circuit’s dismissal of the New York Cayuga’s 26-year-old land claim and $247.9 million judgment.

The Oklahoma tribe was a co-plaintiff in that case and maintained that it had sovereign rights to build the $25 million gaming facility because its Aurelius farm lies in the land-claim area.

Aurelius, joined by the county, the state and the town of Montezuma, has been fighting the tribe in the federal courts for three years.

Feldman said he expects the 2nd Circuit to hear arguments in the case by late summer or early fall.