The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of New York has approved a plan to pursue off-reservation
gaming in the Catskills.
In a referendum last month, tribal members voted 538-371 to move ahead with the project, which hinges on a reversal of the so-called Kempthorne decision, a Bush-era ruling that prohibited tribes from building casinos off reservation land. President Barack Obama is said to be considering a change in policy, and New York lawmakers including Governor David Paterson and Senator Charles Schumer are lobbying on behalf of the Indians.
The Mohawks hope to construct a casino on 29 acres next to Monticello Raceway in Sullivan County. They would work in concert with Empire Resorts, which owns Monticello. The land would first have to be taken into federal trust on behalf of the tribe.
The plan was nearly approved in 2008, but former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne refused to sign off on the land trust, saying the Akwesasne reservation is too far from the proposed casino.