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By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer

A potential roadblock to implementation of the settlement between the state and Oneida Indian Nation may be removed from the approval process.

The Oneidas are now saying the tribe will stand aside if the Cayugas want to build a casino in Cayuga County. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised the Oneidas a 10-county gaming monopoly in the agreement negotiated in May. Part of the Cayuga Nation’s land base falls within that zone. The Cayugas oppose the deal because of the exclusivity given to the Oneidas’ gambling operations and filed a motion to intervene in a case between the state, Oneida and Madison counties, and the federal government. The Cayugas wanted to use the lawsuit as a vehicle to object to the agreement that would end many long-standing differences between the state, Oneida and Madison counties, and the Oneidas.

Now, in a letter submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn, the Oneidas said they’re willing to give up exclusive gaming rights in Cayuga County in the event the Cayuga Nation receives federal and state approval to open a casino.

"The Oneida Nation understands that it is, and intends to be, permanently bound by its waiver," said the tribe’s court filing dated Dec. 12. "The Oneida Nation further understands, upon the court’s approval of the parties’ stipulation based in part on the Oneida Nation’s waiver, that the Oneida Nation is and forever will be judicially estopped to take a different or contrary position."

The gaming prohibition would remain on non-Indian ones.

The Oneida Nation asked Kahn to approve the waiver offer and deny the Cayugas’ motion to intervene in the trust land case. Earlier, U.S. Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles had recommended to Kahn that the Cayugas be added to the lawsuit for the limited purpose of objecting to the settlement. The Cayugas asserted it was illegal for the state to give one tribe authority over another’s territory.

Neither New York state nor Oneida and Madison counties object to the court’s acceptance of the Oneidas’ waiver offer, according Michael Smith, lawyer for the Oneidas.

The Cayugas have asked Kahn to give them until Dec. 20 to respond to the papers filed by the Oneidas.

Under the settlement, the Oneidas would pay 25 percent of their gaming machine revenue to the state. In turn, millions of dollars would flow from the state to Oneida and Madison counties. The state and Oneida and Madison counties would end their involvement in the trust land case if the settlement is enacted. The settlement still needs approvals for the U.S. Department of Interior and the federal court.

RomeSentinel.com

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