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Fed Rejects Indian Casino Plan at Monticello Raceway

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January 7, 2008

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY - The US Secretary of the Interior has denied a proposal from the St. Regis Mohawks to build a casino at the Monticello Raceway.

Their plan was to build a 766,000 square foot two-story casino and entertainment complex with 3,500 slot machines, 125 table games, 24 poker tables, restaurants, nightlife entertainment facilities and retail stores.

In a change of policy the US Interior Department rejected 11 applications from tribes seeking off-reservation casinos. The new policy is based on the commuting distance from a reservation.

"The remote location of the proposed gaming facility may encourage reservation residents to leave the reservation for an extended period to take advantage of the job opportunities created," the department wrote. "The potential departure of a significant number of reservation residents and their families could have serious and far-reaching implications for the remaining tribal community and its continuity as a community."

The department ruled that the 350-mile distance from the Akwesasne Reservation to the Monticello casino is too far to offer job opportunities to tribal residents.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe responded quickly to the ruling by filing a lawsuit against the US Secretary of the Interior and his department. Now they will wait for the legal process and hope for a change of policy with the next administration.

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