New York
Kempthorne mum about views on Mohawk casino

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) met with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for a half-hour on Wednesday but couldn't figure out where the Bush administration official stands on an off-reservation casino for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

"I pressed him very hard on the casino," Schumer told The Middletown Times Herald-Record. "He played it close to the vest."

The state and local community support the tribe's plans for a major casino in the Catskills. But since the site is more than 350 miles from the reservation, Kempthorne has concerns.

"He has never liked casinos off traditional lands," Schumer said.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) officially supports the project. It's only the fourth time in history a state governor has agreed to an off-reservation casino under the two-part determination process of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The final decision on the tribe's land-into-trust application, however, rests with Kempthorne. Schumer said a ruling is coming soon. "I certainly wouldn't break out the champagne," the senator said.

Get the Story:
Schumer makes pitch for casino (The Middletown Times Herald-Record 6/28)