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New York Senate Leaders Support Legalizing Casinos in the State

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State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is backing a proposal to legalize casino gaming in New York State. New gaming destinations would draw tourists to the once thriving Catskills and Hudson Valley regions, Skelos told, adding that now is the time.

“I think it has tremendous opportunities for economic development in some areas that are lagging and also it means a substantial amount of revenue for the state,” he told the newspaper.

Several Indian nations, including out-of-state tribes, have proposed opening casinos in Upstate New York. Leaders of the Seneca Nation of Indians recently re-stated their commitment to build and operate a casino in the Catskill Mountains.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) has been urged to support the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin’s off-reservation casino in the Catskills. The tribe has revived its efforts to get federal approval to open the casino to be located more than 1,000 miles from its land base. The federal government rejected the tribe's bid on February 18, 2011, citing legal concerns with the tribal-state gaming compact.

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Also eyeing the Catskills, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority plans to develop a $600 million casino and racing facility in the area, reported the Associated Press on May 5.

Legalizing gaming in the state requires a constitutional amendment. “We have to pass it in two successive legislatures so we will be talking with the speaker [of the Assembly], the governor and I think we should move forward with the constitutional amendment,” Skelos told