After months of outcry from gaming interests in New York, the U.S. Department of the Interior has turned thumbs-down on a controversial mega-casino in the state’s Catskill Mountains region.
The planned $560 million resort was proposed by the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Indians, which is based near Wausau, Wisconsin. Gaming operators already in business in the state hoped the feds would shoot down the proposal due to Interior’s longstanding prohibition of off-reservation casinos.
As it handed down its decision, Interior said it had “concerns” about the validity of the gaming compact signed last year by the tribe and then-Governor David Paterson.
That compact settled the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claim on 23,000 acres of land in upstate Madison County. The tribe agreed to exchange the larger tract for just 333 acres near Monticello in Sullivan County. The Catskills region, once a hub of popular entertainment, has fallen on economic hard times. It has long been considered ripe for casino development.
The Oneida Indian Nation of New York hailed the Stockbridge-Munsee decision, saying the push for the proposed resort was “destined to fail.” The Oneidas had claimed that the Wisconsin tribe had “no legitimate claims to the lands of New York.”