Press-Republican

Business

December 30, 2013

Plans set to spend slot-machine funds

BOMBAY — Casino-compact funds will be used to expand Bombay Town Court and improve security there.

And Fort Covington wants to use its portion of slot-machine profits from the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino on ideas included in its three-year action plan of community projects and goals.

With its share, Franklin County has typically paid itself back for money spent from the annual budget on tourism expenses, road repairs and other economic-development projects.

This year, the county plans to apply $179,480 toward budgeted tourism expenses plus another $40,000 in additional tourism-related promotions. 

EXCLUSIVITY CHALLENGE

In a 2004 agreement with the state, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and the governments of Franklin and St. Lawrence counties, the Indian-gaming operation at Akwesasne would share a portion of its slot-machine money with them in exchange for permission to run the casino with exclusive rights in eight area counties.

The counties receive 25 percent of the profits in perpetuity and share half with the towns impacted most by the casino — Bombay and Fort Covington in Franklin County and Massena and Brasher in St. Lawrence County.

All must submit plans for use of the money to Empire State Development officials.

Akwesasne Mohawks discontinued payments in late 2010, claiming the state violated exclusivity by allowing gaming machines at the Ganienkeh Mohawk territory in Altona in Clinton County.

Exclusivity applies to Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Warren and Hamilton counties.

HELD IN ESCROW

About $60 million in compact funds were held in escrow until last spring, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new agreement with the Mohawks, who restarted the quarterly payments and immediately released $3.75 million from escrow to each county.

Another check is expected before the end of the year, and reports on how each entity plans to spend its money are going to Empire State Development for approval.

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