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MONTICELLO, NY-In a move prompted in large part by the economic impact on state revenues caused by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the State Legislature has approved a measure that could foster the development of six Indian-run casinos in New York State.

The Senate and Assembly passed bills on Wednesday evening that authorizes Governor George Pataki to negotiate three Indian casino gaming compacts in the Catskills (two sites in Sullivan and one possible development in Ulster County) as well as three additional casino deals in Western New York (Buffalo/Niagara Falls).

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Park Place Entertainment Corp., who are working to obtain approvals on a proposed casino development at the Kutsher’s Resort Hotel and Country Club in the town of Thompson, say that they expect to break ground on the $500-million project by year-end 2002.

Park Place Senior Vice President Kim Sinatra says, “The Legislature’s action is a major step forward for the casino project, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, the state of New York and the people of Sullivan County. This project will mean thousands of local jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in local investment.”

The project will feature a 750-room hotel, 130,00 sf of gaming space, 15,000 sf of meeting space, eight restaurants and a spa. The Park Place/Saint Regis Mohawk project is among a number of proposed sites in the Catskills. However, the venture is the farthest along in the approval process, having already secured a fiscal agreement with Sullivan County in August of this year. Park Place and the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe are seeking approvals from a host of federal agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The gaming bills were part of an education and economic development package that passed both Houses and were touted by state elected officials as necessary measures to provide funding to address the economic damage caused by the terrorist attacks of September 11. “It is projected that the economic devastation of the attacks could be as much as $9 billion in lost revenue to the state,” notes Senator Ronald B. Stafford, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “This legislation is needed to generate additional revenue so we can meet our responsibilities to schools, continue to encourage economic development and provide resources for important programs and services.”

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno states that the decision to green light Indian casino gaming was not an easy call. “I have always been personally opposed to casino gambling,” he notes. “However, the reality is that casino gambling is already here. There is an Indian-run casino in Central New York and casinos surround us in Connecticut, New Jersey and Canada. New Yorkers travel to these casinos and spend millions of dollars to support other states and countries. Establishing casinos here will boost tourism, economic development and generate revenue to support important programs for New Yorkers.” State officials say the six casinos will supply the state with approximately $450 million in revenues when they are fully operational.

The measure approved by the Assembly and Senate also allows for video lottery terminals to be installed at many of the state’s harness horse racing tracks. Also, New York will join the multi-state Powerball lottery game, which will generate another $200 million in annual revenue to the state.

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