Tribe Celebrates Casino Expansion While Cuomo Threatens
Native American music and a ribbon-cutting kicked off the event.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe celebrated the grand opening of its $74 million casino and hotel expansion Thursday in Hogansburg, about 15 miles east of Massena.
"We're all excited and happy and we're looking forward to the future," tribal Chief Randy Hart said, "and it's going to be bright, I'm sure. "
The grand opening came the same day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Native American casinos could soon face competition in their own backyards from three casinos he hopes to bring to upstate New York.
That's if the Seneca, Oneida, and Mohawk tribes fail to resolve existing issues in the coming months -- like revenue sharing -- with the state.
The Mohawks had agreed to make payments for their casino to the state, but they haven't since 2010.
They say the state hasn't kept up its end of the deal by allowing another casino to operate near Plattsburgh.
With that in mind, tribal leaders say they're confident it will all be resolved.
"Both parties want to sit down and talk about negotiating and settle this dispute," Hart said.
Three of the six regions Cuomo is looking at already have Indian casinos. He says state officials won't try to put a casino near casinos run by tribes in good standing with the state.
"For the legislation to work, we need certainty and we need closure," Cuomo said, "and we're going to need to know what we're doing in those regions.
A public referendum to change the state's constitution to allow non-Indian casinos could be on the ballot as early as November.
Saturday, March 8, 2014, Watertown, NY
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