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Oneida sports betting deal with Caesars could become Seneca model

A central New York Native American tribe is partnering with Caesars Entertainment to offer sports gambling at three casinos it runs in the region.

The Oneida Indian Nation said the sports books will begin operations once New York issues regulations to govern the industry and after the tribe’s plan is approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The move by the tribe, whose reservation is based between Utica and Syracuse, is a possible model for the Seneca Nation to follow if and when the state takes the next required step to implement sports gambling

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ended a federal ban on sports gambling, which had been largely permitted in only Nevada.

When it approved the opening of four new commercial casinos in 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers also included language in the law permitting those casinos – spread around several upstate locations – to also offer sports gambling if the federal ban were ever loosened. The state for months has been working on rules to regulate sports gambling at those four casinos, and the Cuomo administration is also considering a broader sports betting marketplace, possibly online.

As a result of compacts signed between the tribes and the state, the Senecas, Oneidas and St. Regis Mohawks in northern New York can offer sports gambling if the four new commercial casinos are approved for sports book operations.

A Seneca Nation spokesman said the tribe has no updates on the issue. The Seneca Nation has been quiet about its plans for sports betting at its three casinos in Western New York.

The Oneidas said the sports gambling facilities will open at its flagship Turning Stone Resort Casino, as well as its smaller Yellow Brick Road and Point Place casinos in Central New York.

The move by the Oneidas comes as 2019 could be a busy one in Albany on sports gambling matters. As the Cuomo administration decides its planned course, lawmakers are already readying efforts to bring sports betting across the state.

In the Senate, where Democrats are now in the majority, Senator Joseph Addabbo, a Queens Democrat who is the new chairman of the Senate’s racing, gaming and wagering committee, has pre-filed a bill for the start of session next week to create a system to regulate and tax sports wagering in the state.

The measure, which died at the end of session last year, would permit both in-person and on-line wagering on college and pro sports at casinos and “affiliate” sites, such as kiosks at OTB parlors. Bettors would have to be physically within the borders of New York State to make a sports wager; Native American casino operators last year complained such statewide online sports wagers would violate geographic gambling exclusivity deals they now have with the state.

Attention to the issue, meanwhile, is growing in Washington, as Congress considers options to regulate sports wagering on a federal basis.

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