Oneidas Planning New Casino

Published September 15, 2003 by OCR Editor

Oneidas Planning New Casino

According to a tribal spokesman, the Oneida Indian Nation of New York plans to build a new casino and hotel just outside of Chicago.

A team of Oneida officials last week toured a 60-acre site near Markham, Ill., about 20 miles south of Chicago, said Oneida spokesman Mark Emery.

Markham Mayor David Webb told The Post-Standard of Syracuse, that the tribe has been holding negotiations with a Chicago investor for at least several months. The tribe is interested in building a casino, hotel and auditorium in Markham, a city of about 12,000, he said.

Emery said he had no other details of the negotiations, which were first reported by the Chicago Tribune. An Oneida nation casino would be the first one established by Indians in Illinois. The state has nine river-based gambling boats.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich last year rejected efforts by the state legislature to open new gambling venues to help offset the state's budget deficit. The Illinois' governor's office had no details on the Oneida plan, a spokeswoman said.

The Oneidas presently run Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, about 30 miles east of Syracuse. Since it opened 10 years ago, it has become a huge success. It draws more than three million visitors annually and generated a $70 million profit for the 900-member tribe.

The Oneidas also have been interested in building one in the Catskills. In 2001, the tribe began negotiations to open casinos in Acapulco and Mazatlan if the Mexican congress ever legalizes gambling there.

In the past, Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter has been critical of other tribes from outside New York seeking to open casinos here. Specifically, the Oneida Nation has been trying to stop Wisconsin tribes with New York roots from building casinos in the Catskills.

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