Jun 10, 2001 7:50 PM

A proposed Indian casino in the Catskills got a boost from a U.S. senator who said he'd work to speed the plan forward.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who described himself as "passionate about gambling," said he'd use his seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to influence the Bureau of Indian Affairs to cut through federal red tape to win approval of the resort.

"I will be like a blowtorch to try to cut through the bureaucracy," he told a local newspaper.

Schumer said he believes the resort will become a reality despite a March ruling by the state Supreme Court that Gov. George Pataki has no authority to approve federally mandated gaming compacts without legislative review.

Schumer said he believes the ruling will not slow down the final approval process.

The St. Regis Mohawk Nation has proposed building a $500 million gambling resort in Sullivan County in the Catskills, about 90 miles north of New York City. The tribe has chosen Park Place Entertainment as its partner to develop and manage the facility.