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Oneida Indians plan New York casino expansion with luxury outlet mall as new competition looms

ALBANY, N.Y. – With new casino competition looming, the Oneida Indians announced plans Wednesday to develop a luxury outlet centre with about 60 stores at their Turning Stone Resort Casino.

The 250,000-square-foot enclosed venue — bigger than four football fields — also will add new restaurants and a six-screen movie theatre to the resort in Verona in central New York. The Oneida Indian Nation estimates the addition will result in another 5 million visits a year after it opens in the fall of 2016, roughly doubling the number of visits it receives now.

Ground will be broken in the spring on the complex, which will be developed, leased and operated by Connecticut-based Gordon Group Holdings.

The high-end outlet centre would differentiate Turning Stone in the ever-crowding state and regional casino markets. And the announcement comes as state officials are poised to approve up to four additional full casinos in upstate New York as early as this month.

Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said the tribe is aware of increasing competition, but stressed the development was part of their long-term strategy to grow and adapt Turning Stone as a successful destination resort.

“We see the changes that are occurring. We see the changes in the economic climate as well as the preferences of travellers and our guests and we’re responding to those,” Halbritter said.

Gordon Group has developed retail projects at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and also is involved in an outlet centre under construction at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, which is scheduled to open in May.

Gordon chairman Sheldon Gordon said it’s too early to put a dollar figure on the Oneida project or to mention possible tenants. He said the Oneida project would be similar to the Foxwoods project, where tenants will include Ann Taylor Factory Store, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.

Gordon said that while the shopping centre industry is “overloaded,” he said they can develop an attractive outlet at a resort that already draws a lot of people from neighbouring states and the New York City region.

Turning Stone opened in 1993 and was granted an exclusive operating zone by the Cuomo administration under a deal last year that requires the Oneidas to give the state a quarter of the casino’s net revenue from slots. Slots revenue this year is estimated at around $200 million.