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Schumer Supports Casino

By John Emerson
MONTICELLO — April 21, 2000 -- U. S. Senator Charles Schumer added his voice to the growing list of people urging Governor Pataki to quickly sign off on a proposed Indian gaming casino.
Schumer made the announcement to a packed house of more than 150 people yesterday morning at Thompson Town Hall.
“I understand the governor’s qualms about having the gambling all over New York state” Schumer said. “I think however Sullivan County is a unique situation, and is different from the rest of the State in three ways. When those three things are taken together the case for approving a casino is compelling.”
Schumers’ three elements that make Sullivan uniquely suited for the proposed St. Regis Mohawk casino included the county’s struggling economy, the loss of millions of dollars to casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey and what he called a matter of equity.
“Sullivan County needs particular help,” he said. “It was gaming that helped undo Sullivan County and now it should be gaming that helps bring it back.”
Although he was not present at yesterday’s meeting, Congressman Maurice Hinchey also chose the event to announce his support for quick gubernatorial action on the casino application. In a news release distributed by his aide, Julie Allen, Hinchey said “The governor has already said he is in favor of gambling in traditional resort areas. Now it’s time for him to prove it by using his authority to sign the gaming compact.”
Pataki’s approval is the last major hurdle the casino must cross before it becomes a reality. Earlier this month the Federal Department of the Interior gave its blessings to the project.
Under federal regulations Pataki must agree with Department of Interior findings that the proposed casino would be beneficial to the tribe and not be detrimental to the local area. Although he has consistently said that he alone has the authority to approve the proposed casino, he has submitted legislation that would require both approval from the State Legislature and a public vote in Sullivan County before he could act on the application.
Casino supporters are concerned that the bill if passed could doom the project. Thus far the proposed law is languishing in the State Legislature and Senate leaders have said it is not likely to be approved.
Schumer said when the process began it was with the understanding that only the governor would have to approve the casino.
“I urge everyone of you to contact the governor and urge him to approve this without the legislature being involved,” he said.
“I’d like to be there at the ribbon cutting.”

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