Local reactions have been mixed since news of the plans for the Aurelius Casino revived by the Seneca-Cayuga tribe of Oklahoma hit this week, with some welcoming the idea and some feeling shocked that it is being revisited at all. It was five years ago that the tribe first requested a land trust in Cayuga County, and now they are asking again – for two hundred and twenty nine acres of land, mostly located in Aurelius with some spilling over into Montezuma.
“This came like a bombshell to me yesterday,” said George Fearon, a Cayuga County legislator who represents Ledyard, Scipio, and Springport. “When I saw that yesterday, I thought ‘we don’t need this now.'” The original proposal was dismissed five years ago because the site where they planned to host slot machine games was actually one thousand five hundred miles away from the tribe’s reservation, which would mean that either tribe members would have to move for their new employment or non tribal personnel would have to be used, which would negate the idea of providing income for the tribe. “The potential departure of a signification number of reservation residents and their families could have serious and far-reaching implications for the remaining tribal community and its continuity as a community,” James E. Cason, formerly of the Department of the Interior, said in 2008 to try and explain the BIA’s decision at that time.
The tribe bought land in Cayuga County in 2002 for the sum of $738,554, which is where they planned the original off reservation casino and where they have resubmitted the application for now. The casino complex would be located between Route 90 and then Routes 5 and 20. They hope to build a facility that would be complete with games such as bingo, blackjack, video poker, and so forth, as well as a hotel to allow players to stay nearby, but in order to do so they first need to make the land exempt from property tax. The BIA say that the process is still in the very early stages, and popular theory is that they have made this leap now because of the state’s interest in New York gaming.