Twenty years ago, the Oneida Indian Nation opened its first bingo hall. Now the tribe is Central New York’s fifth largest employer, and Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona is celebrating two decades of economic growth and success.
The Oneida Indian Nation is commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Turning Stone Resort Casino with a month’s worth of exciting events. The festivities will culminate July 20-21 weekend with an invitation-only, black-tie gala featuring Tony Bennett; an elaborate fireworks display; and the cutting of the casino’s special anniversary cake.
Two Decades of Success and Counting
On April 16, 1993, Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative, negotiated Turning Stone’s gaming compact with then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, father of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Related: The Peacemakers: Inside New York and Oneida’s Historic Agreement.) In a recently released video interview to commemorate the signing of the compact 20 years later, Gov. Mario Cuomo cited the Nation as a rare model of economic success and collaboration.
Referencing the Oneida Indian Nation’s investments in the region and its record of job creation, the former governor reflected on how the Nation has flourished, providing essential services to its members and a much-needed economic boost to the Central New York region. “What we hoped for 20 years ago has become a reality because of collaboration,” then-Gov. Mario Cuomo said in the April video.
The Oneida Indian Nation has spent more than $2 billion on builders and vendors, while generating $155 million in income, property and sales tax revenue for the surrounding communities since the compact was signed. The resort and casino has become one of the largest employers in the region and alone attracts about 4.5 million visitors to the area each year.
In the casino’s 20 years, it has grown to a sprawling 3,400 acres that features four hotels with more than 700 guest rooms and suites, two spas, five golf courses, conference and meeting space, an event center, 19 restaurants, and more than 120,000 square feet of gaming space.
“Thanks to Governor Cuomo and other leaders who believe in the power of collaboration, the Oneida Indian Nation has been able to strengthen this region in profound ways,” Halbritter said in April. “The resources that we have contributed to New York’s economy over the last 20 years has been a down payment on our collective future—one that we will continue to make for generations to come right here in Central New York.”
A History-Making Start
Turning Stone’s 20th Anniversary celebration kicked off Saturday, June 29 with a record-breaking win by one lucky Million Dollar Bingo player. Frances Slesinsky of Binghamton, NewYork collected $1 million, the largest jackpot in the casino's 20-year history.
Major Casino Giveaways
On Sunday, June 30, the first of four Major Giveaways for the 20th Anniversary was awarded at Turning Stone. Megan Overton of Syracuse, New York was the lucky winner of 2,000 gallons of gasoline, provided by SavOn Stores. Other Major Giveaways this month include a commemorative Harley Davidson “Fatboy” Motorcycle (July 7), a vacation getaway to any destination on the 20th parallel (July 14), and a 2013 Toyota Venza (July 28).
For more information on Turning Stone’s 20th Anniversary events and promotions, log on to http://turningstone.com/hot/20thanniversary/.
Upcoming 20th Anniversary Events:
July 2: Counting Crows and The Wallflowers, Turning Stone Event Center
July 3: Harry Connick Jr., Turning Stone Event Center
July 7: Major Giveaway – Commemorative Harley Davidson “Fatboy” Motorcycle
July 11: Jeff Dunham, Turning Stone Event Center
July 13: GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® Official Attempt, Turning Stone Event Center
July 14: Adia Chan, Turning Stone Showroom
July 14: Major Giveaway – Vacation Getaway to any destination on the 20th parallel
July 20-21: Super Crazy Cash Weekend – $68,000 in cash prizes
July 20: Black Tie Gala with Tony Bennett (Invitation Only)
July 20: 20th Anniversary Fireworks Display – Fireworks by Grucci
July 21: 20th Anniversary Cake Celebration with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, Turning Stone Winter Garden
July 21: “The Cake Boss: Bakin’ with the Boss Tour”, Turning Stone Event Center
July 28: Major Giveaway – 2013 Toyota Venza
Attempting To Set a New GUINNESS WORLD RECORD®
On Saturday, July 13, the general public will have the opportunity to attempt to create the largest human playing card for the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS. An official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS adjudicator will be on hand to watch the attempt and verify if a record is set. If the crowd achieves the feat, Turning Stone Resort Casino will be registered in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS database and eligible for inclusion in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS annual book. Participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt and a $20 Turning Stone free play card. For more information on how to sign up to participate, go to http://turningstone.com/hot/gbwr/.
20th Anniversary Black-Tie Gala With Tony Bennett – Saturday, July 20
An invitation-only, black tie gala will be held Saturday evening, July 20, with a headline performance by legendary singer Tony Bennett. At this event, the Oneida Indian Nation is taking the opportunity to thank its many community and business partners for playing a significant role in improving the lives of tribal members and benefiting the Central New York region.
Spectacular Fireworks by Grucci – America’s First Family of Fireworks – Saturday, July 20
Also on the evening of July 20, Fireworks by Grucci will present a spectacular display, scheduled for 10 p.m. in the skies above Turning Stone. For generations, the Grucci family has delighted millions of people around the world with its displays. Fireworks by Grucci has provided fireworks for seven consecutive U.S. Presidential Inaugurations; the Olympic Games in Beijing, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Lake Placid, among many other major events and celebrations.
20th Anniversary Cake Celebration with the “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro – Sunday, July 21
On Sunday, July 21, the public is invited to the Winter Garden Atrium at Turning Stone at 2 p.m., for the unveiling of the resort-casino’s one-of-a-kind 20th Anniversary cake, created by the “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro and the baking team at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Valastro and Carlo’s Bakery are featured on cable television’s hit program “Cake Boss” on TLC.
Valastro will present the cake, and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and members of the Oneida Nation Council will take part in a ceremonial cake-cutting. The public will then be able to enjoy a complimentary piece of anniversary cake.
The celebration continues, as Buddy Valastro will take to the stage at Turning Stone’s Event Center at 4 p.m. for a stop on “The Cake Boss: Bakin’ with the Boss Tour.” In this live, interactive event, Buddy will share stories behind his hit television series and his colorful Italian family, answer audience questions, and give a live demonstration of the techniques that have made him one of the most successful and renowned cake artists in the nation. In this all ages show, Buddy will even invite a few audience members on stage to join in the fun. Tickets for “The Cake Boss: Bakin’ with the Boss Tour” are priced at $25, $30, and $35, and are on sale now. Call the Turning Stone box office at (315) 361-7469 or visit www.Ticketmaster.com.
Coming Soon: Exit 33
Also mid-July to coincide with its 20th Anniversary celebration, the Nation is opening its $25 million entertainment expansion to its casino.
"Exit 33" will house three distinct music venues including Tin Rooster, a country dance hall with live bands and barbecue, The Gig, a rock ‘n’ roll club featuring local bands and New York-style pizza and craft beers on tap, and Turquoise Tiger, a piano bar inspired by 1940s film noir, also showcasing stand-up comedy, and a lounge serving exquisite cocktails.
Encircling the concert areas is The Atrium, a sleek lounge area with vaulted glass ceilings reaching nearly 60 feet high in some places, according to the Oneida Dispatch. A sushi bar is planned for the near future.
“For over seven months, the construction crews and building trades have been working hard to make ‘Exit 33’ a reality," Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative, told the Oneida Dispatch last month. "When we open in July, we will be adding more than 125 permanent jobs to one of the largest workforces in Central New York.”
Construction of Exit 33 created about 200 jobs, and the resort is in the process of hiring long-term employees to staff the new venues. For more information, call the Oneida Nation human resources department at 315-829-8900 or visit turningstone.com/jobs.
In addition to Exit 33, Turning Stone has nearly two dozen dining options, including Wildflowers, the AAA Four Diamond award-winning restaurant, and TS Steakhouse, featuring locally sourced and sustainable food on the 21st floor of the Turning Stone Tower Hotel. And just in time to celebrate the resort’s landmark anniversary is the opening of the newly remodeled and re-imagined Italian fine dining establishment Pino, formerly named Pino Bianco Trattoria. The venue is divided into three areas: the Pino Bianco main dining room with a comfortable yet sophisticated ambiance; the patio area known as Pino Pronto, offering the Italian sidewalk café experience; and Bar Pino, a continuation of Pino Bianco ideal for happy hour and the after-dinner scene.
The casino also offers two world-class spas, a championship 72-hole golf course, four unique hotels, Lava nightclub, a showroom for concerts and major events, and 125,000 square feet of Vegas-style gaming.
Exit 33 will further the Oneida Indian Nation's commitment to growing the economy of Central New York and putting Oneida County on the map as a travel destination.
"It's not going to be something you've seen around here," Lava Director of Operations Jerry Marrello told CNYCentral.com. "I think that's the whole idea is for us to bring things that don't exist here. Things you might find in Vegas or other metropolitan areas."
About Turning Stone Resort Casino
A premier four-season, destination resort in Upstate New York, the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino is conveniently located about 30 miles east of Syracuse at NYS Thruway exit 33. Turning Stone was named “Most Excellent Golf Resort” in 2010 by Condé Nast Johansens. The Academy of Country Music named Turning Stone “Casino of the Year” in 2009. The resort offers world-class gaming, golf, entertainment, accommodations and spa facilities, and has earned AAA Four Diamond ratings for The Lodge, The Tower Hotel, and Wildflowers restaurant. For more information and reservations, call (315) 361-7711 or (800) 771-7711. Visit the website at www.TurningStone.com.