The race to the casino finish line: No doubt about it. The St. Regis Mohawks are heading down the homestretch for federal approval of their Kutsher’s Sports Academy casino. The environmental portion of their Bureau of Indian Affairs application has been moved from the eastern office to Washington. A BIA official says “they should have had it [the environmental portion] approved by now. They just move real slow on it.”
But even though the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans filed their application for a Bridgeville casino almost a year after the Mohawks, they’re gaining on the leaders. The tribe could win federal approval by the end of the year, says that BIA official, Curt Chandler, head of environmental resources in the eastern office. The application was sailing along, until contamination was found on the site of the proposed casino, at the old Gildick’s auto wreckers property.
“They have to do some cleanup there,” says Chandler. “And that delays it a little bit.”
From “The West Wing” to Pataki’s ears: Unless the Stockbridge-Munsee folks negotiate a state deal, the casino will go nowhere. So far, the Wisconsin-based tribe with New York roots is not having an easy time getting the governor’s ear. Pataki may consider the Stockbridge-Munsee and out-of-state tribe, even though it has a land claim against New York state. He – and New York tribes – frown on non- New Yorkers getting casinos.
He should check out a recent episode of “The West Wing,” which featured the tribe.
“Why aren’t you in New York anymore,” the president’s press secretary asks two members of the tribe.
“Because you marched us to Wisconsin,” comes the Stockbridge-Munsee reply.
Ulster folks just say no to the casino: So what if Ulster County just inked a $15 million-per-year compensation deal for a Modoc Indian casino in the Ellenville area. So what if the odds are stacked way against that tribe ever opening a casino because they’re out of state and hooked up with an unrecognized tribe.
The Ulster County Citizens Against Casino Gambling say any proposed casino must go. The new group just sent a letter to the Ulster County Legislature saying it’s against “the development of casinos in our county.” Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
“In addition to our objection to gambling as an industry within our borders, we also object to the environmental impact [of] proposals to expand roads from two lanes to four, to the vast increase in bus and car traffic on already congested roadways, to demands on a limited water system already under severe duress and the generally negative changes in the character of our valley.”
Legal trouble: Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Mohawks were going to build a casino at Monticello Raceway. Their management company was Alpha Hospitality. Right after the tribe won federal approval, the Mohawks switched to Park Place and Kutsher’s.
Last week, former executives with Alpha were charged with defrauding five banks of tens of millions of dollars, along with avoiding millions more in taxes. The executives are former Alpha CEO Stanley Tollman and accountant James Cutler, who both resigned in February; executive Monty D. Hundley, who left in 1995; lawyer Sanford Freedman, who left in 1998 and Howard Zukerman, who left in 1997. Alpha still owns the track, which could get slot machines in the form of video lottery terminals, as early as next year.
Park Place juice: Liberty Supervisor Dick Martinkovic was strolling outside the Capitol in Albany a couple of weeks ago when he saw two big black stretch limos parked in front of the building. The signs in the windows said: “Park Place Entertainment.”
“You know what they’re doing?” Martinkovic asked before answering his question. “Some serious lobbying.”