When the Seneca Nation of Indians’ made their surprise announcement of a new casino project earlier this month, it caught many people entirely by surprise. Not the least of which was Anthony P. Cellini, Supervisor of the town of Thompson, New York, the town in which the casino is planned to be built.
Anthony Cellini learned about the Senecas’ casino plans the same way as most other people, through the press. Cellini has already negotiated some agreements with two other Native American tribes who were affected by the federal government’s ban on off-reservation casinos last year. He is rather unhappy with the Senecas’ surprise plan, and doesn’t believe that they should just be able to build a casino without consulting him about it first.
Mr. Cellini isn’t the only one who was caught by surprise either, as the St. Regis Mohawk tribe was also unaware of the plans. The Mohawks were once considered as the front-runners for any casino plans in the Catskills, until they had their application rejected last January by Interior Secretary Dirk A. Kempthorne. Barbara Lazore, a Mohawk tribal chief has issued a recent statement to wish the Seneca good luck, and also described the problems the Mohawks faced to get a Sullivan County casino, which has still yet to be approved. Also in the dark was New York’s Governor David Paterson, with whom they have yet to meet.
The new Senecas’ casino is actually a joint venture with Rotate Black Gaming, a new Michigan-based company, and was apparently never discussed on the Seneca territories or even at Seneca Gaming Corp., which is the tribe’s gambling division, according to reports by some Senecas.