AKWESASNE — St. Regis Mohawks have exclusive rights to operate a casino in seven upstate counties, which may spoil St. Lawrence County’s efforts to attract one.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed creation of three casinos north of New York City to boost the economy but didn’t specify where they would go.
St. Lawrence County quickly created an economic-advisory committee to study the economic impact of hosting an off-reservation casino.
At the same time, published reports state that the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority has two possible sites available along the St. Lawrence River across from Prescott, Ont.
But the gaming compact reached between the state and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe that created the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino grants gaming-exclusivity rights to the Mohawks in seven area counties: Franklin, Clinton, Essex, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, Jefferson and Warren.
David Trout Staddon, director of public information for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, said the governor clarified his position recently when he said no new casinos would be built where an Indian tribe has exclusivity rights.
Franklin County officials see it the same way.
“I don’t think the agreement we have will let them have a casino because (the Mohawks) have an exclusive all the way from Plattsburgh over; at least, that’s my thinking of it,” said Legislator Guy “Tim” Smith (D-Fort Covington).
“I took it from the governor that there was going to be one upstate, but I don’t think they’ve got the population for it,” he said of St. Lawrence County, adding that a place like Saratoga is more likely to win it.
The compact agreement between the state, local governments and the Tribal Council awards a sliding-scale percentage of slot-machine profits to the entities most impacted by the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino operation, which is wholly situated in Franklin County.