By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 28, 2001 In April 2000, it appeared that the St. Regis Mohawk tribe and Catskill Development were on the brink of constructing a casino at Monticello Raceway. Before it could happen, the Mohawks left Catskill and made a deal with Park Place Entertainment for a resort/casino at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello.
While Park Place and the Mohawks have started the long road to get the needed approvals for the casino, Park Place has set up its vice-president, Chuck Miller, to be the companys representative in Sullivan County.
Miller moved to the area last May after Park Place held a forum at Sullivan County Community College to answer the public's questions.
"This is an incredible, fascinating area," Miller remarked in a recent interview. "This area is waiting to be rediscovered. Mini-vacations are ideal for this area."
Miller was born and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. When Miller first entered college, he was interested in becoming a doctor and went to Westchester University on a soccer scholarship.
Shortly after college, Miller was drafted and sent to Vietnam. When he left the service in 1970, he still wanted to be in the medical field and found a job at a children's hospital in Los Angeles. Miller soon met a friend in Las Vegas and began attending UNLV Medical School.
It was at that time that his career in the gambling industry got started. In 1972, he started working at the casinos to put himself through school, doing everything from sweeping floors to cleaning bathrooms to parking cars. Eventually, Miller became a dealer at the tables and worked his way up into marketing and operations.
Ultimately, he left Las Vegas and went to Reno, working the casinos there for 13 years. But Miller decided to leave Reno, and headed to Minneapolis, where he helped launch new casinos.
Miller began with Grand Casinos in Minnesota in 1992. In 1998, Grand and Hilton merged to form Park Place Entertainment. Under their banner, Miller helped three casinos begin on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; Kinder, Louisiana; and Tunica, Mississippi.
He is looking forward to doing it again in Sullivan County.
"There is a great deal of excitement, a thrill in another start-up," remarked Miller. "This is an emerging market. It is also an opportunity to settle in a small community."
Miller has been working with the Mohawk Tribe since April 2000. He calls them "marvelous people."
He also feels it is important to be a sincere part of the local community.
"The worst thing is to be dishonest. Once everything is approved, we will need community support to get through the entire process. It is important to be an active member of the community," he explained.
Currently, Miller has been sharing office space with the Partnership for Economic Development in Monticello. Sometime in October, Miller hopes to open an office for Park Place in the Ames Plaza in Monticello.
Although he is living at Kutshers, Miller has a wife, Lori, and children Justin, 18; Jayleen, 7; and Brandon, 4 all of whom have been house-hunting. Miller states his entire family is looking forward to moving to the area.