Group seeks an Indian tribe to open casino

There are no federally recognized Indian tribes in Ohio.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Supporters of a gambling casino in Youngstown are changing their tactics and are now looking for an Indian tribe to come to the Mahoning Valley, establish a reservation and work out a deal with the state to open a casino here.
But there are a number of major obstacles in the way, according to Chris Slagle, Ohio attorney general spokesman.
First, there are no federally recognized Indian tribes in Ohio. Without federal recognition, which would require proof of a historical connection to Youngstown, an Indian tribe has no chance of opening a casino here, he said.
"For an Indian tribe to be recognized by the federal government can take decades," Slagle said. "If they're searching for a tribe to come to Ohio, I'm not sure it will work. There are some applications from Indian tribes wanting to be recognized in Ohio that have been pending for 30 years. It's a very long, difficult and methodical approach they go through."
Scenario: The Casinos for Youngstown Committee says getting an Indian tribe here could be the answer to establishing a gambling casino in the city.
"A tribe from another state can come here and they can work out an agreement with the governor to pay a portion of the casino revenues to the city, county and state," said Pat Mackondy, the group's coordinator.
If a tribe gets federal recognition in Youngstown, state officials would have no choice but to work out a deal if the tribe wants to open a gambling casino here, Slagle said. But he says getting one recognized in Youngstown is a long shot.
Lawmakers: The committee wanted to persuade state legislators to sponsor a bill that would legalize a gambling casino in Youngstown. Although some legislators support the plan, none are willing to sponsor the legislation, thus eliminating that option, Mackondy said.
Mackondy, of Beaver Township, said his group is in contact with an undisclosed major casino corporation, based in Las Vegas, interested in building a $600 million to $1 billion casino-hotel complex, to be called the Steel Valley Casino, that would employ at least 5,000 people in downtown Youngstown. A casino would bring significant economic development to Youngstown, Mackondy said.
State law does not permit casinos in Ohio and there are no plans to change the law.
"An Indian-style casino in Youngstown will produce great rewards, including jobs, money and pride," Mackondy said.
A recent Web poll conducted by The Vindicator showed an overwhelming majority of those participating favor a gambling casino in Youngstown.
Sebastian Rucci, who did legal work for a casino in California in 1991, suggested the Indian casino proposal to the Youngstown committee. Rucci, of Poland, admits recruiting a small tribe of Indians, about 50 or so, to move to Youngstown to build a casino "looks kind of cutesy, but it's legal." Indian casinos exist in more than 20 states.