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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2009

SCHUMER CALLS ON NEW OBAMA INTERIOR SECRETARY, KEN SALAZAR, TO TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT BID TO ESTABLISH CASINO IN SULLIVAN COUNTY


Stockbridge Munsee Tribe Wants to Establish Casino in Catskills That Would Boost Tourism and Economic Development Benefits in the Region

In January 2008, Despite Widespread Support from NYS and Local Officials, Then-Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne Denied Applications for All pending Off-Reservation Casinos, Including Those in Catskills

In Personal Call, Schumer Ask

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the new Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar – in a personal phone call – to take a fresh look at the Stockbridge Munsee Tribe’s application to pursue a casino in the Catskills, which was rejected by the former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in January of 2008. The Stockbridge Munsee seek to establish a casino in the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County, but their application, along with that of the St. Regis Mohawks, was denied despite widespread community support.

 

Citing the economic development, job, and tourism benefits a new casino would bring to the entire Catskill region, Schumer today said that he personally urged Salazar to reverse Kempthorne’s decision and take a fresh look at the original application.

 

“There has long been widespread community support for gaming in the Catskills, and – because it would be a big boost to the local economy, job growth and tourism – that continues to be the case. That is why I urged President Obama's new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to take a fresh look at the pending applications that were rejected wholesale by his predecessor. I was disappointed in Secretary Kempthorne’s unfortunate decision last year, and I hope that with a new administration we have a new way of thinking about applications that are finite, focused, appropriate for the region, and have strong community support,”  said Senator Schumer.

 

The Stockbridge-Munsee along with Trading Cove Partners seeks to build a casino outside Monticello in the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County. In January of 2008, then Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne denied their application, along with 21 other off-reservation land-into-trust applications on grounds that they were damaging to life on existing reservations.

 

Schumer today said that he is hopeful that the new administration will give the application a fair and open review. “In my conversation with Secretary Salazar, he was receptive to my request and said he would look into the matter going forward,” Schumer said.

 

Up to three casinos in the Catskills were authorized by state law in 2001, but those efforts must first pass muster with the BIA. In processing applications for gaming, the BIA consults with the community and determines whether gaming is in the best interests of the tribe and whether it will be detrimental to the community.  The BIA then seeks the approval of the state’s governor. This is known as a “two-part determination” under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  Final State approval is generally done by way of a compact, which the governor is authorized to form on behalf of the state, once several labor, revenue sharing, and liability conditions are met.  

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