The pending agreement between Kien Huat Realty III Limited and Empire Resorts is welcome news to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Tribal officials hope the change is a positive one that will move the project forward.
“In light of this development, we are pleased to continue exploring the possibility of tribal gaming in Sullivan County,” said Mohawk Tribal Chief James Ransom. “This project would bring much-needed jobs and economic development to the area.”
The tribe’s plans, in the final stages of approval prior to January 2008, would create a regional gaming destination. The project would benefit the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Sullivan County.
Kien Huat Realty has extensive experience in establishing successful Indian gaming operations. They include the Seneca Nation of New York and the Pequot Nation of Connecticut.
The U.S. Department of the Interior stalled the Sullivan County casino project in 2008 by drastically changing the law, under the guise of a “guidance policy.” The tribe had met all of the strenuous legal requirements established by Interior’s existing regulations at the time. This included extensive local and state support.
“We have had several meetings with Department of Interior officials and believe that the new administration will do the right thing and overturn the earlier decision,” said Tribal Chief Monica Jacobs. The project’s success depends on Obama administration officials withdrawing the earlier guidance.
“We believe that this development has the potential to allow the St. Regis/Empire relationship to renew our development in Sullivan County,” said Tribal Chief Mark Garrow. “Tribal leadership is committed to taking this issue to our members before we can finalize anything.” The tribe plans to hold a referendum to get a go-ahead on the project.