Turning Stone Resort & Casino
|Turning Stone Resort & Casino|
|Table-level view of live poker at Turning Stone|
|Location||Verona, New York|
|Address||5218 Patrick Road|
|Owner||Oneida Indian Nation|
Turning Stone Casino and Resort is a resort owned and operated by the Oneida Indian Nation in Verona, New York. The facility opened July 16, 1993 and offers golf amenities (on- and off-site golf courses, one of PGA quality, and an indoor golf dome), an RV park, an arcade, many restaurants, table games and many types of digital slot machines. Until the Seneca Niagara Casino opened, it was the only land-based casino in New York. The resort is a popular tourist destination in central New York State.
Construction and expansion
Since the casino's inception, its progress has been opposed by some. As a fall-back plan, the Oneida Indian Nation designed the casino so that it could easily convert into a small shopping mall, if the Oneidas were unable to develop their casino plans.
In 1997 the Oneidas paid for a water tower near the casino and gave it to the Town of Verona. The water tower has a capacity to hold 1,000,000 gallons of water. In 2005 the Nation consumed 600,000 gallons per day which was four times the amount guaranteed to them under an agreement with the Town of Verona. In about July 2005 the Town of Verona notified the Nation that after 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday August 2, 2005 that the water to the casino and resort would be shut off after it had used the 150,000 gallons of water that is guaranteed under the agreement. Just hours before this deadline the Oneida tribe began paying for a new water pump to be installed to provide the needed water capacity for the casino and resort.
The land upon which the Casino is located on was acquired from Ibrahim Batca and his family in two transactions in 1992 and 1993. Construction of an on-site hotel and a bingo hall began in 1994. The Bingo Hall's construction completed in 1995. Disagreements over the hotel plans delayed its construction for a year. The hotel's original design plans would keep the hotel and casino separate, connected by only an outdoor walkway. Resultant of the delay, the hotel plans were re-designed to combine the hotel and casino into one structure. This new design allowed the Oneida Indian Nation to offer more services, including a pool, a spa, and a gym. Additionally, the combination created a larger and more formal lobby that allowed the hotel and casino to be one structure.
In 2002, construction of a gaming expansion and showroom were completed to provide the only Ticketmaster approved venue in the area. The popularity of the casino gave both the funding and the need for a second and third hotel to be built on the premises. Construction of the new hotel finished in late 2004. One of the hotels is the tallest structure between Syracuse and Albany to serve the common guest; the other hotel is a luxury resort.
The casino also hosts several shows throughout the year, featuring musicians (KISS, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fergie, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, Jordin Sparks, Alicia Keys & Wayne Newton), comedians (Bill Cosby) & other entertainment groups (Purrrfect Angels).
The resort's Atunyote Golf Club, located on tribal land, hosted the Turning Stone Resort Championship, a PGA Tour event, from 2007 through 2010. The event was dropped from the PGA Tour schedule over a 2011 scheduling dispute.
The tribal-state gaming compact
The original gaming compact was executed in 1993 between then Governor of New York State Mario Cuomo and the Oneida Indian Nation. In opposition to the casino's operation, the Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE) helped to challenge the compact's validity on grounds that the state legislature failed to approve the compact pursuant to the New York State Constitution. In Peterman v. Pataki, the compact was declared unconstitutional because the legislature failed to approve the compact, despite Cuomo's representation and belief that legislative approval was unnecessary. The Oneida Indian Nation appealed this decision up to the Court of Appeals to no avail. The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert. The high court typically refrains from intervening in suits that pertain largely to state matters even though it would have jurisdiction to hear the case. A denial of cert. is not a judgment on the case's merits and is not to be used as legal precedent. The lower court's decision stands until overturned. Further, the Rules of Decision Act, as interpreted by Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, requires federal courts to apply state law where there is no conflict between state and federal law. Where there is a conflict of laws, federal law preempts state law under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) incorporates state laws into federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. § 1166 provides, "for purposes of Federal law, all State laws pertaining to the licensing, regulation, or prohibition of gambling, including but not limited to criminal sanctions applicable thereto, shall apply in Indian country in the same manner and to the same extent as such laws apply elsewhere in the State." The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has held that approval of a Compact by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior "did not and, under IGRA, could not, alter its validity or non-validity under state law." To date, the Second Circuit has not adopted this view in regards to the validity of a compact, however the Second Circuit has adopted the part of the Tenth Circuit's decision regarding an Indian Tribe's waiver of sovereign immunity. But, to date, the Second Circuit has not held that the OIN waived its sovereign immunity.
The Oneida Indian Nation then sought relief with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). After many failed attempts to negotiate a settlement by an April 2007 deadline, the Department of the Interior launched its own investigation into the compact's validity. On June 13, 2007 when the Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior declined to reconsider its approval of the compact, Mr. Cason stated, "the 1993 Compact continues to be in effect for purposes of the IGRA". In UCE's lawsuit against the DOI, UCE has challenged the DOI's decision regarding the compact's validity in addition to its challenge of the DOI's decision to take land into trust for the OIN. Now it is the United States Department of the Interior's position that the June 13, 2007 was not the end of it reconsidering the validity of the tribal-state compact, but merely a suspension of its reconsideration.
On August 7, 2007, in an action between New York State and the Oneida Indian Nation, U.S. District Court Judge Kahn upheld Magistrate Treece's order directing the depositions of high-ranking officials and denying the State's motions. The decision also dismissed the Amended Complaint pleading, which attacked the Board's authority to amend the Compact due to Peterman and Seneca, on subject matter jurisdiction grounds. The fact that the amended complaint was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds deprived the court of the opportunity to address, directly, the compact's validity at the federal level. If the compact was invalid, then the Oneida Indian Nation would be violating federal law (operating a gaming facility without a tribal-state compact). Such a violation of federal law would have provided the requisite subject matter jurisdiction (federal question) to address the amended complaint. Even though the State sought to enjoin the Nation from operating Instant Multi Game ("IMG") based on its failure to adhere to the procedures in the Compact, the state has since dropped this case.
Scope of the gaming compact
Since the compact's original approval, the Department of the Interior specifically stated "compact does not specifically refer to the site where ... the Nation has built a major new facility in anticipation of being able to conduct gaming in the future. Since the compact tracks the [IGRA's definition of 'Indian lands'], we ... take no position with regard to whether this new facility is on 'Indian land' as that term is used in IGRA". This does not have any bearing on the actual compact's validity, but it does deal with another issue involving the compact: the casino's authority to operate at its present location.
Status of ancient tribal lands re-acquired on the open market
State law forbids Class III gaming on lands within New York State. For some time, it was believed that the land the Oneida Indian Nation once owned, sold, and since re-acquired automatically returned to its status as Indian Territory. In City of Sherrill v Oneida Indian Nation, Justice Ginsburg authored the majority opinion that determined the land on which the casino is on was part of the Oneidas' original tribal lands. The Court continued that although the land may be part of an ancient reservation land grant, over 200 years was too long to be non-Indian territory for the Oneida Indian Nation to re-establish its immunity over those lands. Since the Sherrill decision, the OIN has applied to the U.S. Department of the Interior to have this land taken into trust.
Alcohol and smoking
On Wednesday, October 3, 2007 the New York State Liquor Authority denied the Oneida Nation’s applications to serve alcohol at their golf courses. After delaying a decision for a month, the liquor board told the Oneida Indian Nation it cannot issue permits while unsettled sovereignty issues between the tribe and the state are being litigated in court. "The Liquor Authority said the applications were disapproved without prejudice, and the Nation can reapply for the licenses after the reservation issue is solved."
While their applications were pending before the Liquor Authority, the Resort did not allow any kind of alcohol on the premises as part of their application. Since the Liquor Authority's denial on the applications, the Oneida Indian Nation has lifted the alcohol ban.
Smoking is allowed around the resort although they have recently expanded non-smoking sections in all areas.
In popular culture
- American metal band, Bible of the Devil, recorded a song about the casino, titled "The Turning Stone". It appears on their 2008 album Freedom Metal.
- Jackpot: Conventions become a bigger part of casino business
- Deeds on file in the Oneida County Clerk's Office in Book of Deeds volume 2627 page 94 and Book of Deeds volume 2657 page 653
- Hayner Hoyt builds relationship with Oneida Nation
- Tribe to give workers a bonus
- Gaming aside, the Oneidas are betting on golf
- 4 Misc3d 1028A, 798 NYS2d 347 [Sup Ct]
- 18 USC Sec. 1166 Gambling in Indian country
- Mescalero Apache Tribe v State of New Mexico, 131 F.3D 1379 [10th Cir. 1997]
- Department of the Interior letter to the Oneida Nation
- Actual Complaint filed in court
- http://www.upstate-citizens.org/USDC-UCE-US-reply-in-support-of-motion-for-partial-dismissal.pdf "The one page letter does not reflect a substantive deliberation reconsidering DOI’s former approval but rather a simple notice to the concerned parties that the reconsideration process has been indefinitely suspended."
- see Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
- see 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331, Upstate Citizens for Equality website (page 5 left column), 
- Syracuse.com blog
- Upstate Citizens for Equality website
- 544 U.S. 197 
- For more information on this application see the Oneida Indian Nation page.
- State denies all 6 Nation liquor license applications
- Turning Stone Asks for Liquor