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Poll: New Yorkers Oppose Wisconsin Tribe’s Catskills Casino

ALBANY, N.Y. - An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers oppose former Gov. David Paterson’s deal to allow the Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians from Wisconsin to build a casino in the Catskills, the New York Post reported on Jan. 28.

A statewide poll showed eighty-one percent of voters oppose the tribal-state casino compact Paterson signed with the Mohicans at the end of November, just weeks before his term ended, the Post said.

The compact would allow the Wisconsin tribe to build a $700 million casino on 330 acres of land in Sullivan County in exchange for dropping its decades-old land claim to 23,000 acres in Madison County. The Nov. 22 compact also transfers 1.84 acres of land in Madison Country to the Stockbridge-Munsee.

The poll was conducted on behalf of a coalition of racino operators at harness tracks in Saratoga Springs, Monticello, Yonkers, the Finger Lakes, Buffalo and the future facility at Aqueduct. Earlier this month the group called on state officials to stop the casino proposal. The letter, which was sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo's office and the New York State Department of Budget and Division of Lottery, said that the compact could cause New York State to lose $400 million in tax revenue, nearly $200 million in state education and up to 1,000 jobs, according to the Queens Courier.

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"When you have a stroke-of-midnight, under-the-table deal like that to hand over a full-scale casino to an out-of-state Indian tribe, it's not surprising that the public thinks it was a bad idea," said Saratoga Gaming & Raceway investor James Featherstonehaugh, who signed the letter of protest to Cuomo.

No information was given about the number of respondents in the poll.

The Stockbridge-Munsee deal has also draw heavy criticism from tribal nations within the state, who oppose off reservation gaming in New York for out of state tribes.

The proposed settlement deal still needs approval from the secretary of the Interior Department.