Will Slot Machines Be The Next Addition To Southampton Nightlife?

by BILLY GRAY · December 16, 2009

The Shinnecock Indian tribe met guidelines for federal recognition yesterday, and with that comes the possibility of the Southampton-based tribe operating a casino right in the heart of the swank summer enclave!

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The Shinnecock reside on 800 acres of land on the eastern end of Long Island. Its rocky history includes a 31 year struggle for formal federal acknowledgment, a 2006 lawsuit against the Interior Department and $1 billion worth of land disputes, including a claim to the grounds of the venerable Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

Yesterday's news was a huge coup for tribe members, but raised concerns among Southampton's fancy pants summer residents, who are likely planning additional hedgegrow fortifications as we type. That's because formal government protection might lead to a casino in the community, and with it the type of...eclectic crowd more identified with Atlantic City than the East End.

New York's dire financial situation increases the odds of a gambling haven snuggling up to Southampton's multi-million dollar estates. Unsurprisingly, residents are torn on the casino possibility. Says local newspaper The Independent:

"Debate on the issue has raged fiercely on the East End in past years, with preliminary plans unveiled and members of local, county and state government polarized on whether a casino could mean an desperately needed economic boon for the area – or could spark traffic, congestion, crime, and other ills."

Only a Class II casino would be considered for Southampton. That's the kind of operation that's limited pretty much to slot machines and the septuagenarian ladies who love 'em. In other words, not exactly the high-roller crowd, unless rolling an oxygen tank qualifies for that designation nowadays.

That said, many rich people in Southampton already took gambles on real estate and in the market (and some lost), so maybe the dollar slots won't be so out of place at all.