CHITTENANGO, N.Y. – The Oneida Indian Nation plans to open a $20 million casino with a “Wizard of Oz” theme in the village where author L. Frank Baum was born, the Oneidas confirmed Sunday.
Ray Halbritter, chief executive officer of the Oneida Nation, said in a news release that the 67,000-square-foot casino will open in the spring in Chittenango, 14 miles east of Syracuse. The plans, first reported by the Syracuse Post-Standard (http://bit.ly/1wSda3w ), call for renovating a vacant building in a shopping plaza.
The Oneidas announced plans for the Yellow Brick Road Casino four days after a state panel recommended licensing three non-Indian casinos, including a $425 million casino and hotel 42 miles west of Syracuse in Seneca County. Halbritter said because the Chittenango casino will be on Oneida reservation land, no permission is needed from federal, state or local governments under terms of a 1993 gaming compact with the state.
A 2013 state compact ended dispute over what constituted Oneida Nation land and gave the Oneidas exclusive rights to gambling activity in a 10-county area surrounding its Turning Stone Casino in Verona. In exchange, the Oneidas agreed to share 25 per cent of their slot revenues with state and local governments.
A spokesman for the state Gaming Commission did not return a call and email seeking comment Sunday.
“The Yellow Brick Road Casino will create numerous construction jobs for our local trade workers and more than 250 permanent positions once it opens,” Halbritter said.
The new casino will be smaller and more casual than Turning Stone, which has gambling, golf courses, hotels, entertainment and restaurants. The Chittenango facility, which will be open 24 hours a day, will have more than 430 slot machines, a 500-seat bingo hall, two dining options, a country western bar and a general store.