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MONTICELLO, NY–Based on statements by the developer of the proposed $700 million Cayuga Catskill Resort made in response to a crucial agreement reached between the Cayuga Nation and New York State yesterday, construction on the casino project at Monticello Raceway is expected to begin by September of this year.

In response to a Memorandum of Understanding reached Thursday between the Cayuga Nation of New York and New York State to settle land claims in the Finger Lakes that will allow for the development of the Cayuga Catskill Resort, Robert Berman, chief executive officer of Empire Resorts Inc., gave a grand opening target date that all but assures construction starting soon.

“Now, the $700 million casino with 4,000 slots and more than 200 table games is planned for opening by New Year’s Day 2006,” he says. A spokesman for Empire Resorts, confirmed construction of the resort will take about 18 months to complete. Therefore, although the company will not break ground immediately, Degliomini confirmed that construction would begin right after all approvals are received. New York State and officials with the Cayuga Nation of New York stated they have set a goal of obtaining all the necessary approvals by Sept. 30.

Henry Bunce, president of the Catskill Casino Coalition, a building trades group that has lobbied for casino development in the Catskill region, says that he believes construction could start on the project even sooner than September. Bunce related that some of the material being used for the development of the $24 million video lottery terminal complex at the Monticello racetrack can be used for site work in preparation of construction of the casino resort. The video lottery complex is currently under construction and is expected to open at the end of this month. Known as “The Mighty M,” the video lottery facility will include a 350-seat buffet, a 75-seat show lounge and a gaming floor of approximately 86,000 sf.

The casino will feature 600,000 sf of gaming floor area and will create approximately 2,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs at the facility once in operation, according to company estimates. “Our agreement would also establish price parity between Cayuga and non-Cayuga vendors, which clearly shows that we can achieve parity with the Indian nations in a spirit of cooperation, not confrontation,” Governor George Pataki says.

Some of the terms of the non-binding agreement include: the state will pay to the Nation nearly $248 million in 14 equal annual installments beginning on Jan. 1, 2007 and federal legislation will be sought to ratify all transactions by which the state or others obtained land from the Cayugas within the 64,015-acre area set aside for the use of the Cayugas in the 1789 Treaty between New York State and the Cayugas. The agreement also states that the Cayuga Nation may acquire or exercise sovereignty on up to 10,000 acres of land in the Finger Lakes.

Part of the deal also calls for the state to negotiate and enter into a gaming compact with the Cayuga Nation to operate a gaming facility at Monticello Raceway once the 30-acres of land at the track is taken into trust by the Cayuga Nation.

In addition to all federal and state approvals, the Cayuga Nation must settle an ongoing dispute with Sullivan County prior to construction. The Cayuga Nation has agreed to pay the county $5 million a year to operate the casino in Monticello; however, two other competing Indian gaming facilities have offered $15 million a year in compensation to the county. Sullivan County officials have stated the county will not support the Cayuga resort unless its compensation matches the two other Indian gaming fee agreements. Another potential roadblock to the casino project is litigation in the federal and state courts that challenges the constitutionality of Indian casino gaming in New York.

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