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MONTICELLO, NY-There have been a host of proposals to build a casino in the Catskills in New York State, however, to date there is no official plan in the approval process, therefore, an Indian-run casino in Sullivan County is still at least 12 months away from being approved.

The prospect that casino gambling would come to Sullivan County looked like a sure bet earlier this year when the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs approved an application to put land into trust for the St. Regis Mohawk tribe for a casino at Monticello Raceway. However, shortly after the approval was granted in April, the St. Regis Mohawks abandoned the Monticello Raceway plan and its developer Catskill Development. Instead, the tribe turned to gaming giant Park Place Entertainment Corp., which is now moving forward on a plan to redevelop the Kutsher’s hotel resort into a casino for the St. Regis Mohawks.

However, to date the only approved application for an Indian-run casino in Sullivan County is the proposal at Monticello Raceway, according to a spokesperson for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC. If the St. Regis Mohawks move ahead with Park Place and its plan at Kutsher’s, a new application would have to be filed and approved.

Another piece of bad news for casino proponents in Sullivan County came recently when the driving force behind the casino and convention center at Kutsher’s, Park Place Chief Executive Officer Arthur Goldberg died of complications from bone marrow failure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD on Oct. 19 at the age of 58. On Oct. 23, the company reported it had selected Tom Gallagher, who was executive vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel to Hilton Hotels Corp., to succeed. Goldberg.

However, a spokesman for Park Place says that Goldberg’s death will not delay its plans to build a casino at Kutsher’s, which is located just outside of Monticello, for the St. Regis Mohawks. “This was actually his vision, his dream, his legacy and he would want us to proceed,” said Michael Turner, a spokesman for Park Place Entertainment.

He adds, “We are moving full steam ahead.” Turner says the company is working on its application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to build: a 2,000-room hotel, a 125,000-sf casino, in excess of 300,000 sf of convention center space as well as ancillary restaurants, shops and other attractions.

He estimates that the St. Regis Mohawk casino at Kutsher’s will cost approximately $750 million to develop. Turner stresses that Park Place believes it will have all approvals in place within one year.

Nedra Darling, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, says that the St. Regis Mohawks’ initial proposal to build a casino at Monticello Raceway “is on hold,” due to the Indian tribes’ decision to scrap that plan. The bureau has not received any application for the venture at Kutshers to date, Darling notes. She says that the length of the approval process would take “up to a year.”

A spokesperson for Catskill Development had no comment on the company’s plans for a casino at Monticello Raceway. However, the company did deny reports that have been circulated in the Sullivan County area that it was holding discussions with Park Place on a possible deal.

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