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Seneca Tribe Pursues Casino Plans in Catskills

On January 16th, 2009, Barack Obama and the weak economy are going to mean Indian casino facilities in the Catskills-or at least that is what one casino player is hoping for. Although the federal government turned down twenty-two casino plans across the country a year ago, the Seneca Tribe is still hoping that the brand new administration will look favorably on its casino plans in Bridgeville.

The Seneca tribe's partner, Rotate Black Gaming Incorporated from Michigan, has bought sixty-three acres of land off Route 17 and would transfer the land to the Seneca Tribe, who will seek to have the land under trust for a casino facility. The Seneca Tribe said that a change in policy by the new administration could help fulfill their casino dreams. The tribe is also promoting the economic benefits of a casino facility, saying that a casino would mean $160 million for the local communities and state while providing the Seneca Tribe with more cash to invest in the economy of Buffalo.

Gambling Experts said that the Seneca's dream is a long shot but not entirely impossible under the administration of Obama. Steven Light, the co-director of The Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota said that what the Seneca Tribe is doing is placing itself in an advantageous position where it can act immediately if the situation is favorable. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne blocked casino hopes during the Bush administration.

Light said that Kempthorne's policy could be changed immediately because it came from a letter and a memo and was not part of an official rule-making process. But Obama has given out mixed signals about his view on gaming and his pick for interior secretary, Senator Ken Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, has not taken an official position of Indian gaming. Light said that even if the policy was modified, the existing political and legal hurdles are "immense".


02/22/2009 19:32 PM
Richard Kennedy