In an effort to offset some of the expenses associated with the September 11, 2001 tragedy, and to replace lost tax revenues resulting from the events and an economic slowdown, the New York Legislature recently approved a casino gambling bill. The bill authorizes up to six new tribal casinos in the Catskills and western New York, the installation of video slot machines at state racetracks and authorizes lottery officials to have New York participate in the multi-state “Powerball” lottery. Supporters of the measure project that it could generate up to $1 billion per day of tax revenue to assist the government in meeting the needs of the state.
Late last week, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Park Place Entertainment Corporation announced that they will be breaking ground on a new casino and resort complex by the end of 2002. Chief Paul Thompson stated:
“We are extremely pleased that the New York State Legislature supports the development of a Mohawk Casino and Resort in Sullivan County. This project will mean thousands of local jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in local investment.”
Park Place Senior Vice President Kim Sinatra noted: “The Legislature’s action has put the Mohawk project on the fast track.”
Construction of the casino-resort will provide an estimated 2000 construction jobs. The $500 million project is being built at the site of the Kutsher’s Resort Hotel and Country Club in the Catskills. The new resort will feature a 750-room hotel, 130,000 square feet of gaming space, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, eight restaurants and a spa.
Prior to beginning construction, the Tribe still needs to finalize a compact with the state, and receive approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs for its Land in Trust Application. Additionally, the National Indian Gaming Commission will need to approve the Tribe’s Management Agreement with Park Place Entertainment, and local officials will need to grant zoning and construction permits.
Other hurdles also lay on the horizon. Many New Yorkers are unhappy about the prospects for gaming expansion and are threatening to take the legislative decision to court in an effort to have it declared unconstitutional. They are lead in this effort by world famous casino mogul Donald Trump, who apparently doesn’t like the prospect of such close competition for his Atlantic City properties.
As other parts of the country struggle through the economic slowdown, they are certain to carefully consider authorizing casino gambling. Tough times require new means for creating an economic stimulus, and casino gambling has proven itself to be a powerful tool for economic revitalization.