Casino plan gets a beating in Albany

Opponents of former governor David Paterson's plan to allow the Stockbridge-Munsee Indian tribe to build a resort casino in Sullivan County testified at a hearing in Albany today. Critics of the plan are hoping to persuade Governor Andrew Cuomo that the whole scheme is a bad idea.

The Politics on the Hudson blog reports that the chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering, Gary Pretlow, made it clear that he disliked how the deal was made in secrecy:

“None of us had any idea this was going on behind closed doors,” Pretlow said during the meeting.

The Capitol Confidential blog reports that the leader of the New-York-based Oneida tribe, Ray Halbritter, questioned the Stockbridge-Munsee's committment to New York State. (The Stockbridge-Munsee are based in Wisconsin.) From the blog:

Oneida leader Ray Halbritter said in his testimony that [the Stockbridge Munsee] tribe has about as much stake in New York as a visiting team playing the Yankees in the Bronx would.

Pretlow is concerned about the Wisconsin location of the tribe, too. He said last week that he thinks the federal government won't approve the plan for that reason. From an article printed in last week's Daily Freeman:

Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, noted the St. Regis Mohawk casino proposal was rejected last year because the Department of Interior said it was too far from their reservation.

“The thought was the proposed casino should be in at least commuting distance from the so-called reservation to the casino,” he said. “Now, if Buffalo was too far from Sullivan County, I’m pretty sure that Wisconsin is a lot farther and a more difficult commute.”

If the feds do approve the casino, Pretlow predicts it would be tied up in court for years.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has made the abolition of the casino the subject of a letter-writing campaign to Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, which is currently mulling the deal. And the New York Post reported last week that a majority of New Yorkers oppose the plan.

More on today's hearing from the Times Herald-Record.

Earlier: More on casinos in the Catskills.