Tuesday, November 24, 2009

St. Regis Mohawks End Bid For Catskills Casino

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a Times Herald-Record article on the St. Regis Mohawks ending their long fought battle to build a casino in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

St. Regis Mohawks vote to stop pursuing Sullivan
By Barry Lewis
Times Herald-Record
November 24, 2009

MONTICELLO — The St. Regis Mohawk tribe appears to have ended its decade-old fight to have an off-reservation casino in Sullivan County.

The decision was the result of a referendum Saturday by tribal members who voted 178-140 against continuing with an off-reservation gaming project.

The Mohawks, who have a reservation near the Canadian border, have had a long but at times bumpy relationship with Empire Resorts, their partners in developing a casino at Monticello Gaming & Raceway.

"We respect the process and procedure of the St. Regis Mohawks, and we are evaluating the impact of the referendum," said Empire spokesman Charlie Degliomini.

The Mohawks did not return calls for comment.

The vote by the tribe comes as Sen. Chuck Schumer has lobbied Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to reverse the policy of the Bush administration on a blanket ban on off-reservation casinos. Such applications have been proposed by the Mohawks and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, a Wisconsin tribe with ancestral claims to Sullivan. The Buffalo-based Seneca Nation has also had talks about a possible casino in the Catskills.

"We still have two good tribes that want to open a casino in Sullivan County," said Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini. "The St. Regis Mohawks have been on and off about a casino and have been changing sites for years. We'll work with tribes who want to be here."

News of the Mohawks' vote sent shares of Empire plummeting nearly 20 percent, closing at $2.43 a share.