Casinos and Gaming

Oneida Indians plan new ‘Oz’-themed NY casino


The Oneida Indian Nation has announced plans to open a $20 million casino with a "Wizard of Oz" theme in the village where author L. Frank Baum was born.

Ray Halbritter, chief executive officer of the Oneida Nation, tells the Syracuse Post-Standard the casino will open in the spring in Chittenango, New York, 14 miles east of Syracuse.

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The Oneidas announced plans for the Yellow Brick Road Casino four days after a state panel recommended licensing three non-Indian casinos, including one 42 miles west of Syracuse.

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Halbritter said because the Chittenango casino is on Oneida reservation land, no permission is needed from federal, state or local governments.

A 2013 state compact gave the Oneidas exclusive rights to gambling activity in a 10-county area surrounding its Turning Stone Casino in Verona, about 16 miles east of the Chittenango site.

Lee Park, a spokesman for the state Gaming Commission, confirmed Sunday that the state plays no role in regulating Class II gaming facilities such as the one planned by the Oneidas in Chittenango.

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"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.