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MONTICELLO, NY-A spokesperson for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe says the tribe is hoping to meet with US Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne soon regarding its pending land-into trust application for its $600-million casino here. The tribe also plans to sit down with its partner on the venture, Empire Resorts, Inc., which posted some troubling financial results and forward looking statements with the SEC recently.

Leslie Logan, public information director with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, says the tribe sent “an official formal request” for a face-to-face meeting with Sec. Kempthorne, who is reviewing the tribe’s land-into-trust application for the Monticello casino. If Kempthorne grants his approval, construction on the long-anticipated gaming facility could begin soon thereafter.

On Monday, development partner Empire Resorts Inc. of Henderson, NV, posted a net loss for the second quarter of $3.7 million and a net loss of $8.3 million for the firs six months of this year. Company officials blame increased regional competition for sharp declines in gaming and horse racing revenues at its video gaming machine facility and harness horse track in Monticello. The company attributes a lion’s share of its losses to the recent re-opening of harness racing at Yonkers Raceway and competition on the gaming side from similar video gaming machine facilities at Yonkers and Aqueduct racetracks in New York and several slot machine facilities in Pennsylvania.

Perhaps more troubling than its second quarter earnings posting, Empire Resorts on Friday Aug. 3 filed a comprehensive 10Q with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In its 10Q filing under the section “Risk Factors,” after detailing the intense competition the company’s Monticello Gaming & Raceway faces, it states, “Because we may not be able to continue to generate sufficient cash to fund our operations, we may be forced to rely on external financing to develop our Indian casino project and to meet future capital and operating requirements.” The firm, which notes in the SEC filing that while projections of future cash needs and cash flows are uncertain, states, “If our capital requirements vary materially from those currently planned, we may require additional financing sooner than anticipated.”

The firm, which has a $10-million senior secured revolving loan with Bank of Scotland, later states in its filing with the SEC, “If we cannot raise funds, if needed, on acceptable terms, we may be required to delay, scale back or eliminate some of our expansion and development goals related to the casino projects and we may not be able to continue our operations, grow market share, take advantage of future opportunities or respond to competitive pressures or unanticipated requirements which could negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition.”

An Empire Resorts spokesman says the references to possible issues regarding the casino project refer only to Empire Resorts’ management and development costs. Financing for the $600-million project will come from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Gaming Authority, which will raise the necessary financing directly from Wall Street. The company spokesman did not provide specifics on how much the Empire Resorts’ management and development costs might be.St. Regis Mohawk spokesperson Logan says, “We’re aware of the [Empire Resorts'] filings and we are meeting with our partner to address our mutual concerns.”

Commenting on the firm’s second quarter and half-year financial results, Empire Resorts CEO and president David Hanlon says, “Facing increased regional competition, we took decisive steps this quarter to grow revenue through targeted marketing efforts and enhanced entertainment options. We believe these actions, along with seasonal factors, paid off in sequential revenue growth and lower net loss versus the first quarter. As our renewed marketing efforts take hold, we continue to take all measures necessary to improve the Monticello Gaming & Raceway operations.”

Empire Resorts stock closed on Friday at $4.17 a share. In the past year, the firm’s stock has sold as high as $12.70 a share.

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