MONTICELLO, NY-The proposed $600-million casino to be developed by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Empire Resorts Inc. at Monticello Raceway reached another milestone with the passage of a local mitigation agreement between Sullivan County and the tribe. The agreement requires the tribe to make annual payments of $15 million to the county, migrating potential impacts of the casino. The St. Regis Mohawk’s gaming facility will feature a 160,000-sf casino, 3,500 slot machines and 125 table games.

“This is a positive development that will help move the entire process toward a successful final conclusion,” says Chief Barbara Lazore, a tribal chief of the St. Regis Mohawks. “The opportunity to bring a Native American Class III gaming operation to Monticello Raceway will mean positive economic development for the members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and the people of Sullivan County.”

Sullivan County Legislator Sam Wohl, and chairman of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency, says the St. Regis Mohawks will become “a big player in our local economy. The positive economic spin-off from this casino will translate into new job opportunities for our residents, increased local commerce and a jump-start to our tourism industry.”

In April, the Bureau of Indian Affairs asked the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to address some issues in its environmental assessment of the project. The tribe’s response is expected to be finished soon. The remainder of the approval process for the project will involve the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision on whether to render a “Finding of No Significant Impact” on its environmental assessment.

If granted, Gov. George Pataki then must decide whether to concur with a two-part BIA Secretarial Determination issued in April 2000, that stated the Monticello Raceway casino venture was in the best interest of the tribe and had no significant impacts on the surrounding communities. The issue would then go back to the BIA to issue a final land into trust agreement, which would allow the casino project to commence construction. A spokesman for the St. Regis Mohawks stated that a groundbreaking for the venture could take place prior to the end of this year.

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