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David Shaw
Finger Lake Times

UNION SPRINGS — For the second time in a month, the village of Union Springs has lost its effort to shut down an electronic gaming facility operated by the Cayuga Nation in the Cayuga County village.

On Aug. 20, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the village’s petition that it reconsider its July 27 decision prohibiting the village from enforcing anti-gaming and building code laws aimed at shutting down a Class II gaming operation in a renovated former Napa Auto Parts Store on Route 90.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling by Federal Judge David Hurd that rejected the village’s efforts to close the gaming operation.

“The Cayuga Nation is committed to protecting the businesses that support programs and benefits for Nation citizens and we will continue to oppose any attempts to infringe on the Nation’s sovereignty,” said Clint Halftown, the Nation’s federal representative. “Like Seneca County, the village of Union Springs continues to waste time and money on a futile legal strategy.”

He added, “When the village is ready to engage in positive relations, government-to-government, the Nation will engage in good faith.”

The three-judge appeals court ruled July 27 that the village should be prevented from enforcing its anti-gaming and building codes in regard to the gaming facility, which contains mostly video terminals.

The village’s only option now may be to seek review by the Supreme Court of the United States, which earlier this year rejected an attempt by Seneca County to enforce tax foreclosure laws on nation-owned properties in Seneca Falls that were delinquent in payment of property taxes.

Village Attorney Chad Hayden said the Village Board will discuss the matter and its options at its Sept. 21 meeting.

The nation began operating Lakeside Entertainment in Union Springs in 2004. After a short time, the nation suspended operations and then reopened the Class II gaming facility in 2013. When that happened, the village issued cease and desist orders for alleged violations of local ordinances prohibiting games of chance in the village and for building code violations. The nation took the village to court in 2003 and again in 2014, seeking to halt the village’s enforcement efforts.

Hurd ruled in favor of Cayuga Nation, saying the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act exempts the village’s local ordinances and sovereign immunity prevents the village from enforcing its criminal and civil laws against the nation and its leaders and prohibited local interference with nation gaming operations anywhere within the tribe’s original 64,015-acre reservation in Cayuga and Seneca counties, established in 1795 and not disestablished since then.

The case could set a precedent should the Cayuga Nation attempt to establish a gaming operation in Seneca Falls, where the Cayugas own 1,200 acres of property.

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