Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge Sec Salazar To Consider Off Gaming Reservations On A Case By Case Basis, Overturning Bush Administration Precedent

Oct 13, 2009

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to Secretary of
the Interior Ken Salazar, asking him to consider the pending applications for
off reservation gambling in the Catskills on a case by case basis, and overturn
the blanket ban established by his predecessor Dirk Kempthorne.  In their
letter, Schumer and Gillibrand stressed that the three pending applications in
the Catskills have broad and deep community support, have been developed in
consultation with state and local officials, have revenue sharing agreements
with localities and the state, and have involved extensive environmental
review.   There has been extensive effort on both state and local
levels to ensure that these proposed gaming facilities would be developed
within the confines of federal and state law, because they are critical to the
economic redevelopment of an area that used to be a center of commerce and

and Gillibrand’s letter follows a letter written to Salazar by five of their
colleagues from Western States that urged the Secretary Salazar to use greater
scrutiny when reviewing applications for off reservation gaming. 
Specifically, the five western senators expressed concerns that off-reservation
gaming opportunities can be sought without thorough consultation with local
governments and other stakeholders; can be disruptive to existing land-use
plans and revenue-sharing agreements;  and can be accomplished without
appropriate environmental review.  Schumer and Gillibrand today said that
they share these concerns, but that none of these problems would be caused by
the three pending applications in the Catskills, which would all have thorough
environmental review; be subject to a revenue and responsibility sharing
compact with New York State and have the support of a broad cross section of
the community.  Schumer and Gillibrand therefore urged Salazar to overturn
the precedent set by his predecessor Dirk Kempthorne that prevented any off
reservation gaming facilities, and take a fresh look at New York’s pending

is fundamental consensus between my Senate colleagues and I that there should
not be off reservation gaming facilities in parts of the country where
widespread community support does not exist.  However, there has long
been widespread community support for gaming in the Catskills,
and – because it would be a big boost to the local economy, job
growth and tourism – that continues to be the case. That is why I
urged President Obama’s new head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take a
fresh look at the pending applications that were rejected wholesale by
Secretary Kempthorne. I was disappointed in Secretary Kempthorne’s unfortunate decision
last year, but heartened by Mr. EchoHawk’s pledge to take a hard look at the
Kempthorne precedent as part of their larger review of gaming policy.  I
hope that with a new administration we have a new way of thinking about
applications that are finite, focused, appropriate for
the region, establish revenue-sharing models and have strong
community support,”  said Senator Schumer.

County has one of the highest unemployment rates in New York State and the
development of gaming facilities would provide a much needed boost to the local
economy,” Senator Gillibrand said. “In addition to the thousands of
construction jobs that would be created by these projects, many permanent jobs
would also be created, putting local residents back to work. Because of its
close proximity to New York City, the Catskills has historically relied on the
entertainment and tourism industries as major drivers of its economy. The
creation of these new casinos is a fitting solution to restore the jobs that
have been lost in this region and would provide significant economic benefit to
the community.”

Stockbridge-Munsee seek to build a casino outside Monticello in the Town of
Thompson in Sullivan County.  The St. Regis Mohawks sought to build a
casino at the Monticello Raceway. In January of 2008, then Interior
Secretary Dirk Kempthorne denied their applications, along with 21 other off-reservation land-into-trust applications on grounds
that they were too far from reservations and,
thus, damaging to life on existing reservations.  Schumer and
Gillibrand feel that this blanket ruling is too broad, and that the BIA has a
responsibility to look at applications on a case by case basis, and in
locations when there is broad and deep community support, consider approving

of the widespread community support, Schumer has long been supportive of the
pending applications to build gaming facilities in the Catskills.  He has
lobbied Secretary Salazar and Bureau of Indian Affairs head Larry EchoHawk in
phone calls and letters, asking them to overturn the precedent set by former
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

summer, Senator Gillibrand urged Secretary Salazar to reconsider the
application to pursue casino gaming in the Catskills. In her letter, Gillibrand
cited widespread support from the community and local elected officials.

to three casinos in the Catskills were authorized by state law in 2001,
but those efforts must first pass muster with the BIA. In processing
applications for gaming, the BIA consults with the community and determines
whether gaming is in the best interests of the tribe and whether it will be
detrimental to the community.  The BIA then seeks the approval of the
state’s governor. This is known as a “two-part determination” under the Indian
Gaming Regulatory Act.  Final State approval is generally done by way
of a compact, which the governor is authorized to form on behalf of
the state, once several labor, revenue sharing, and liability conditions are