On Tuesday, January 19, the Oneida Indian Nation issued the following statement to announce its lawsuit against the Gaming Commission’s decision to award a license to the Lago casino project:
“When the Oneida Indian Nation and a majority of New Yorkers supported the measure to expand gaming, we supported a very clear law — one that mandated a review formula requiring new gaming facilities to prove they will create new jobs, rather than simply cannibalizing local economies. That new law did not empower the Gaming Commission to create an arbitrary make-it-up-as-you go licensing process that allows commissioners to change their review criteria on a whim. This lawsuit is simple: we are asking the court to force the gaming commission to enforce and respect the law that it is responsible for upholding”
The lawsuit, filed in New York County on behalf of the Oneida Indian Nation and members of Casino Free Tyre, states:
– The Gaming Commission’s selection process was ad hoc, subjective, and result-oriented.
– During its deliberations, the Location Board abandoned the objective weighting analysis that was mandatory under the Gaming Act. The Location Board substituted its own invention, a “qualitative” evaluation that is without basis in the statutory language.
– In addition to substituting a qualitative review in lieu of the required quantitative analysis, the Location Board also improperly altered the statutory factors to be considered.
– The Location Board eliminated other applicants based on factors that it completely ignored or disregarded in the case of Lago. Unhinged from the required objective analysis, the Location Board’s ad hoc, “qualitative” analysis violated Turning Stone Resort Casino’s right to Equal Protection under United States and New York constitutions and was otherwise contrary to law.
– Lago conservatively projected that more than 50% of its revenue would be redistributed from such establishments. In the Catskill/Hudson Valley region, in contradiction of its treatment of Lago, the Location Board concluded that much lower levels of cannibalization than Lago projected were a categorical bar to the selection of any applicant from Orange County.
– Neither the process nor the result was legal. The selection of Lago must be nullified.