The federal government rejected plans for two casinos in the Catskill Mountains on Friday, saying that the reservations of the two tribes that submitted the plans were too far from where the casinos would be built, in Monticello and in the town of Thompson. The decision was a major setback in the 30-year effort to bring gambling to Sullivan County.
One of the proposed casinos, at Monticello Raceway, received the support of Gov. Eliot Spitzer and was expected to attract six million visitors a year, generate 3,000 jobs and provide the state with an estimated $100 million a year. But the plans faced intense opposition from the NRDC and other environmental groups, and required the final approval of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
Mr. Kempthorne, who has long opposed Indian casinos on nonreservation land, said in his letters that the casinos would be too far away to offer jobs to tribal residents and that forcing residents to relocate would hurt the reservations.
In a statement released Friday night, the NRDC called the decision a major victory and said the casinos would have burdened the Catskills with pollution, traffic congestion and sprawl.
Representative Maurice Hinchey, D-NY who has strongly supported the proposed casinos, said proponents of the plans would not give up. “It is clear that the next opportunity for these proposed casinos to move forward and be objectively evaluated will be under a new administration by a different secretary of the interior, who under current law has the final determination in this matter at this time,” he said in a statement.
(Source: NY Times)