The federal government gave preliminary approval Tuesday to recognize a small tribe of Indians based on Long Island - making the possibility for the tribe to open up a casino one step closer to reality.

"It has been a long time coming," Randy King Chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Board of Trustees told PIX News.

There has already been a huge outcry against opening a casino on Indian land right in the middle of the Hamptons where summer traffic is a nightmare. The tribes says it would prefer to build else where.

Shinnecock Indian tribal leaders initially tried to open a casino on their 1,200 acre reservation in Southampton in 2003, but were told by the Bureau of Indian Affairs they must first formally recognize them as a tribe.

Tuesday's preliminary approval sets off a series of hearings and a review that could bring final recognition by next spring.

The tribe's leaders have said they are willing to negotiate an appropriate site for the casino - either on Long Island or in the Catskills region upstate.

Congressman Tim Bishop is happy with the news.

"This first step toward federal recognition is welcome news for a long-overdue acknowledgment of the Shinnecocks' status as a Native American people," he said. "Today's announcement by the Interior Department should be celebrated not only by the Shinnecock Indian Nation, but also by its neighbors in Suffolk County and residents of New York as a whole."

In 2005, members of the tribe filed a federal lawsuit to reclaim 3,600 acres on eastern Long Island. In that case, the tribe wanted the title to all non-residential property within the 3,600 acre area of Southampton town - including the famed Shinnecock Hills golf club which Native American representatives say is the location of tribe burial grounds and the Long Island Railroad.

"We have an active land claim that is still in effect right now," said King. "We would have to sit down with our legal council. I don't think we can take the land back but the monetary value of that is up or discussion."

While the Shinnecock tribe has yet to succeed in that lawsuit, the case may have opened the door to today's federal ruling which clears the path for Shinnecock recognition and a potential casino on tribal land.

"We've talked about Aqueduct, and Belmont and Western Suffolk County but we're site unspecific so sit back and see what happens."