Gunther: Assembly Passes Legislation Settling Akwesasne Mohawk Land Claim

Legislation opens door for casino to be built in Sullivan County

Assemblywoman Alieen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) announced Assembly passage of legislation settling the Akwesasne Mohawk land claim, clearing the way for a casino to be built in Sullivan County (A.8900).

"Building a casino in Sullivan County will have a positive effect on our area’s economy," Gunther said. "In addition to the 4,000 full-time jobs and 2,000 construction jobs it will create, the casino will add to the attractions of our region and give tourists another reason to come and spend their money here."

Before the casino can be built, Gunther’s legislation will need to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the governor, and gaming compact will need to be reached between the St. Regis Mohawks – who would construct the casino – and the state.

"I’ll work to ensure that an additional agreement adequately addresses all the issues, including schools, transportation, health care, housing, the criminal justice system, and the environment," Gunther said. "In my mind, the most important aspect of this project is making sure that Sullivan County benefits from it."

Gunther added that under her legislation Sullivan County will be held harmless from lost property tax revenue on the casino’s land because of the tribe’s agreement to reimburse the county. The bill also authorizes the governor to enter into a trade agreement with the St. Regis Mohawks to collect all state and local taxes on goods such as cigarettes, fuel, alcohol, and personal, property, and occupancy taxes on the casino’s hotel rooms.

Monday, the state Senate proposed legislation holding out for the construction of three casinos (S.5872). However, a 2001 law (Ch. 383) already authorized the construction of three casinos in the Catskills.

"The Senate’s legislation is reckless," Gunther said. "It’s much more prudent to build one casino and see how it affects the area, rather than open three at once. Also, the Senate bill would authorize the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and the Stockbridge Munsees to build casinos even though their land claims have not been settled. I strongly urge the Senate to join the Assembly and governor in supporting this common-sense legislation and settle this land claim so a casino can be built in Sullivan County."