WASHINGTON (AP) _ After three years of review, federal officials have approved the St. Regis Mohawk tribe’s proposal to bring casino gambling to New York’s Catskill Mountains.
The OK from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Thursday allows the state to transfer 30 acres of land at the Monticello Raceway harness track to the tribe as a site for a casino. The plan must still receive state approval.
Michael McKeon, a spokesman for Gov. George Pataki, said Pataki had not yet seen the BIA’s letter of approval.
``But the governor has said generally he is supportive of casinos in traditional resort areas, like the Catskills,″ McKeon said.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is among those who supports the plan for the economically struggling region.
``It is one of the only real shots in the arm that can help Sullivan County,″ he said.
Opponents include Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., developer Donald Trump and other Atlantic City casino owners who worry the casino would siphon away gamblers from New York City. The casino would be just 75 miles from midtown Manhattan.
Gambling has been a touchy issue with New York lawmakers. In recent years, constitutional amendments to legalize casinos off Indian land have failed in the state Legislature.
The St. Regis Mohawk reservation straddles the U.S.-Canada border in northern New York.