The Yellow Brick Road Casino in New York Is Latest Project by Oneida Tribe
The Oneida Tribe of New York state opened a Wizard of Oz-themed mini-casino in a strip mall near Syracuse. The gaming site is named the Yellow Brick Road Casino and can be found on tribal lands near the Chittenango grocery store.
Though the new casino is small in comparison to the Turning Stone Resort Casino the tribe owns 20 miles down the road, it is seen by the tribe as an additional revenue source which can pay homage to the local culture. Frank L. Baum, who published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, was born in Chittenango, New York in 1856.
Yellow Brick Road Casino Plan
The Yellow Brick Road Casino is going to have 441 slot machines and 500 seats on the gaming floor, which is expected to be called Wizard Hall. A bar on the premises is going to be called the Winged Monkey. Players can expect gaming tables in the near-future.
Ray Halbritter, a spokesman for the Oneida Tribe, discussed the reasons the tribal authority decided to build a satellite casino in Chittenango. Halbritter said, “It is more for a more convenient kind of gaming, meaning you can stop in. Turning Stone has become such a large property, now this is so much easier to get inside, relax and just get a bite to eat.”
Halbritter and Woinski
Halbritter said the tribe has expected new competition might open up a gaming venue somewhere nearby, so the tribe wanted to build a loyal customer base before anyone else had the same idea. One reason for the Yellow Brick Road Casino is likely the proposed Lago Casino, which is being built by Wilmorite, a Rochester-based real estate developer. Lago was one of three large Las Vegas-style casinos approved by the New York siting panel in December 2014, and is the one based in the Albany region. New York already has 5 Indian casinos and 9 combined racetrack-casinos or racinos, so the competition is going to be fierce in the coming years.
Alan Woinski of Gaming USA, a New Jersey-based consulting firm, said that the satellite casino is no doubt a reaction to the announcement of the Lago casino. Woinski told ABC News, “It doesn’t take much to break even. It’s a very low-cost casino and it’s going to draw from a very small area. But there’s no doubt it’s strategically placed.”
Oneida Tribe Complains
The Oneidas petitioned the state in April 2015 to have the Lago license rescinded, saying that the siting panel consistently did not apply the same standards in choosing sites. They claimed that the Lago casino is going to take customers from Turning Stone, which is a factor the panel should have considered. Halbritter told reporters this week that the Lago casino’s “goal is to take business from us, the business that we created.”
While it might be hard to argue that the gamblers at the Turning Stone Resort would never have gambled were it not for the Oneida tribe, the argument that market saturation could hurt the tribe is a real issue. The example of Atlantic City is certain to keep every developer in the region up at night.
Thomas Wilmot and Lago
For his part, Thomas Wilmot Sr., who is the director of the Lago casino, is likely to imagine the Yellow Brick Road Casino is an attempt to take customers from his planned resort. Wilmot told ABC News this week that Turning Stone and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, another key competitor in the area, are certain to remain “significantly profitable” when it opens in 2016.
Despite his confidence in the Oneida tribe’s longterm viability, Wilmot also does not believe the Yellow Brick Road Casino is likely to have much of an impact on Lago’s bottom line. Mr. Wilmot said, “There will be some impact. But it will be very minor.”
The Wizard of Oz
When Frank L. Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the turn of the 20th century, it received significant critical and commercial success. The tale of a girl’s journey through a wonderful and exotic land with a group of cute misfits has resonated through the generations. The lessons it teaches about courage, basic humanity, public relations, and con games continues to entertain and enlighten to this day.
A major part of that popularity is due to Judy Garland’s version of the Wizard of Oz, which came to the silver screen in 1939 as one of the first color movies (many people believe it was the first color movie, though it wasn’t). Song such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow are part of the Great American Songbook and are covered by the best singers of each generation, even here in the 21st century.
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