Yesterday, Gov. Spitzer took 2 major steps in pushing forward the St. Regis Mohawk Casino at the Monticello Raceway. (Read the Times Herald Record article.) He accepted the environmental statement from the Dept. of the Interior, a step that was widely expected to happen quickly. But he also announced that he had reached agreement on the financial pact with the Mohawks, a step that many thought might take months of negotiations. The fact that he took these actions so quickly, and decisively, indicates Spitzer’s very strong support of a Catskills casino.
One major step remains. Dick Kempthorne, US Sec. of the Interior, must agree to take the 30 acre casino site at the raceway into trust for the St. Regis Mohawks, as this is an ‘off reservation’ casino. Kempthorne has been a vocal opponent of off reservation casinos, so this crucial step is not a slam dunk. However, Spitzer said that he will personally lobby Sec’y Kempthorne, and there will also be considerable pressure from the NY congressional delegation led by Charles Schumer, a longtime casino supporter.
Some steps towards a casino are major, some are minor, and some get a lot of press even though they’re not that important. So sometimes its hard to discern when there’s a big leap. I suppose one measure would be where a new report on a casino step is reported in the NY Times. This one made the front page, so I think its safe to put it in the ‘major step’ category.