The clause in the contract states that "Concord is aware that,at a certain point in the future, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe mayobtain all necessary licenses and approvals (the "Class IIILicenses") that shall be required to operate a Class III gamingfacility on the Land in Trust Property. Concord hereby agrees toendorse the construction of a Class III gaming facility on the Landin Trust Property, and hereby agrees to support the tribe in itsefforts to obtain the Class III Licenses. Concord acknowledges thatEmpire may plan and develop resort, hotel, entertainment and/orretail facilities on the Empire Land (the "Class III Actions"), andConcord hereby endorses the Class III Actions and the aforesaiddevelopment of the Empire Land."

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Empire officials say that per the agreement Concord Associatesis required to provide $1 million for the master development of theproperty at Monticello Raceway. They add that "a plan for theentire 200 acres, including the Mohawk casino, was commissioned byConcord Associates in January 2008."

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The statement notes that "the company is perplexed by thetribe's apparent emotional reaction. Empire had previously obtainedthe written agreement of the tribe to permit it to develop up totwo additional tribal casinos in Sullivan County. In addition, theConcord facilities could have also been replicated at anytime atthe Raceway site with Concord Associates. Why the tribe chose notto engage in a dialogue with Empire to extend the agreements thatexpired in 2007, which Empire had invited the tribe to do, cannotbe explained by Empire," company officials say. "It remains apuzzle to the company as to the underlying motives and strategy.Why would the tribe walk away fromthe Raceway site for yet a second time?"

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The St. Regis Mohawk tribe states in a prepared release that ithas notified the National Indian Gaming Commission as well as NewYork State officials and members of Congress of its officialdeparture from the casino venture. In addition, the tribe states ithas formally withdrawn its federal lawsuitagainst Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne who issued what nowmust be considered the probable deathblow to the project byrejecting the tribe's land-into-trust application last month.

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"We feel deeply betrayed by Empire Resorts and its management,"states tribal chief Lorraine White. "We have trusted and workedside-by-side with these people for three years overcoming onesignificant obstacle after another only to be stabbed in the backin the end."

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Tribal chief White says that to "add injury to insult" it haslearned that Donald Trump, who had been actively opposed to the St.Regis Mohawk casino venture in the past, could possibly be involvedin the Empire-Concord Associates gaming resort to be developed atthe Concord Hotel about three miles away from the MonticelloRaceway property. Cappelli, in a telephone interview withGlobeSt.com, confirms that the Empire-Concord Associatespartnership is in discussions with Trump about the project. ConcordAssociates holds an 8.5% stake in Empire Resorts.

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"The question that begs is, do you really think that LouisCappelli and Donald Trump would later roll out the welcome mat forthe Mohawks and our Las Vegas style casino to compete alongsidetheir proposed entertainment city and VLT parlor?" chief Whiteasks. "We think not."

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Earlier this week, Empire and Concord Associates LP, reached anagreement for a $700-millionhotel/resort gaming complex at the Concord Hotel. The agreementcalls for the current video gaming machines facility or "racino" aswell as the harness racing track at Monticello Raceway to move to a160-acre site on the grounds of the Concord Hotel. ConcordAssociates is the owner of the famed Concord Hotel property. Theplan also involves the development of approximately 1.5 million sfof gaming, hotel and entertainment space. As proposed, the projectwould feature a 100,000-sf gaming facility that would houseapproximately 1,500 video gaming machines, a convention center, ahotel, golf, retail stores, restaurants and family entertainmentuses. The gaming facility would be built inside what is currentlyprojected to be a 500-room hotel, although Empire-Concord couldbuild as many as 1,500 rooms.

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The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council believes that it could haveprevailed in having the Secretary of Interior's ruling reversedeither in federal court or with a change in presidentialadministration in 2009. Since its announcement of its partnershipat the Concord with the Cappelli led group, Empire officialsstressed the firm was supportive of the St. Regis Mohawks and wasnot abandoning the casino project at Monticello Raceway.

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However, St. Regis Mohawk tribal chief Barbara Lazore says thatwhile the tribe is evaluating its next steps, she adds, "but thiswe know for sure: the marriage with Empire is over."

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John Jordan

John Jordan is a veteran journalist with 36 years of print and digital media experience.