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Dan Hust | Democrat

Then Governor David Paterson came to Sullivan County in November to sign an agreement with Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal President Kimberly Vele, left. Looking on, from the left, are Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development Chairman Josh Sommers, Senator Charles Schumer, Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis and Congressman Maurice Hinchey. Racinos, including Monticello Raceway, are opposed to the agreement.

Urge Cuomo to review compact

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — January 14, 2011 — Monticello Casino and Raceway, among others, is asking new Governor Andrew Cuomo to take another look at the compact his predecessor signed with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians – and possibly abandon it.
“It is our opinion that going forward with this compact without seriously considering the loss of hundreds of millions of [dollars in] tax revenues and subsequent thousands of jobs would be extremely irresponsible and damaging to New York State,” wrote Saratoga Gaming and Raceway Secretary James Featherstonhaugh on Tuesday on behalf of a group of racinos that includes Monticello.
“We therefore request that you 1) launch a comprehensive economic analysis to confirm whether or not the state can sustain the significant negative financial and employment impacts, and 2) request that the Department of Interior ‘stop the clock’ on its decision-making process until you have completed your review.”
That “clock” is a 45-day window the U.S. Dept. of the Interior has to approve or reject the compact – a deadline that runs out on February 19.
“The significant negative financial and employment impacts” include:
• “The near-certain closure of the Monticello Racino, which is located 10 minutes from the proposed site”;
• The drawing-away of “higher-end and weekend customers from Yonkers, Resorts World New York and Saratoga Racinos”;
• The loss of nearly half a billion dollars in state revenues from the far higher-taxed racinos, who Featherstonhaugh fears could not compete against a Stockbridge-Munsee casino that has more popular table games the racinos are not allowed to offer;
• The potential slashing of 900 racino jobs and any new jobs that would otherwise result from investments racinos are unwilling to make with the current uncertainty; and
• “In the event that the tribes are successful in proving the state breached exclusivity provisions, New York would have five casinos that provide no economic benefit to the state.”
The racinos are urging the state to undertake a study of the impacts and to delay – if not stop – the Interior Department’s consideration of the compact with the Wisconsin-based tribe.
“There has not been any consideration given to how an out-of-state tribe’s off-reservation casino would negatively impact New York racino jobs, as well as racino financial contributions to the New York State education and local economies,” remarked Charlie Degliomini, the executive vice president of Monticello’s parent company, Empire Resorts. “Commercial racinos, taxed at a blended rate of about 60 percent, cannot compete with an out-of-state Indian casino, which pays zero percent tax on table games and up to a mere 25 percent for slot machines.”
Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal President Kimberly Vele, however, perceives this as a ploy to limit competition.
“The same people who are leading the opposition to our compact, Empire Resorts, tried unsuccessfully for years to open a casino at the raceway with the Mohawk Tribe,” she stated in a press release issued Wednesday. “A closer look reveals that the firm selected to operate a racino at Aqueduct – the Malaysian-based Genting New York – owns nearly 50 percent of Empire Resorts.
“It is not difficult to see that the driving force in opposing the proposed Stockbridge-Munsee casino resort is nothing more than a desire to eliminate perceived competition.”
The tribe is now awaiting the Interior Department’s needed signoffs – and wants no trouble from the state.
“The tribe negotiated the compact in good faith, and we trust that the State of New York will honor it,” Vele said. “The same 2001 New York State law that created the racinos also authorized three Indian-run casinos in the Catskills.”

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