February 25, 2009, Times Herald Record: Schumer says he'll lobby for new Sullivan casino bid

Schumer says he'll lobby for new Sullivan casino bid

Urges another review of Bridgeville project

var isoPubDate = 'February 25, 2009'

BRIDGEVILLE — Sen. Chuck Schumer is going to bat for a Wisconsin-based tribe's bid to open a casino in Sullivan County.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said he's lobbying the new interior secretary to take a second look at the Stockbridge Munsee tribe of Mohicans' project in Bridgeville.

A year ago, former Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne rejected the Stockbridge Munsee project, along with a St. Regis Mohawk casino next to Monticello Gaming & Raceway, while also squashing off-reservation projects around the country.

"I was disappointed in Secretary Kempthorne's unfortunate decision last year," Schumer said in a news release Tuesday.

"I hope that with a new administration we have a new way of thinking about applications that are finite, focused, appropriate for the region, and have strong community support."

Schumer says he is hopeful, after calling the new interior secretary, Ken Salazar, Schumer's former colleague in the Senate. "In my conversation with Secretary Salazar, he was receptive to my request and said he would look into the matter going forward."

The tribe, which claims ancestral ties to Sullivan, has been a long-time player in the county's casino hunt.

The Stockbridge Munsees are offering an estimated $150 million to $200 million annually to the state — what amounts to 25 percent of the net proceeds from the slots over 20 years — for state support. The tribe has also agreed to pay sales and hotel taxes to the state and county, involving sales with non-Indians.

Locally, this is considered the best chance for an Indian-run casino. "Here we have a stimulus package that doesn't require any funds from the government," said Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini. He's been trying to reboot support for the project.

But if Salazar reverses policies on off-reservation gambling, analysts say, it won't happen quickly, because several leadership positions in key federal departments haven't been filled.

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