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Monticello officials want to add GO to B-I-N

Jul 9, 2002 4:43 AM

Monticello is hooked on bingo, no matter what New York Gov. George Pataki says.

The Catskill Mountain resort city is ready and willing to entertain an offer from a Long Island Indian tribe to run an upscale bingo hall, even though the high-stakes version of the game is illegal in the state.

The Unkechaug Indian Nation told city officials that it would make payments in lieu of taxes, which means $135,000 for Monticello, $42,000 for Sullivan County and $112,000 for the city’s school system.

"The tribe feels they have a legal right to do this, and they’re here to make friends with the local community," Unkechaug spokesman Josh Sommers told the Middletown Times Herald-Record. "They realize the project will impact local municipalities. They want to be good neighbors and do the right thing."

The tribe also wants to pay for a community center in neighboring Thompson, N.Y. Thompson supervisor Tony Cellini and Monticello mayor Gary Sommers are negotiating with the tribe, even though Pataki’s office has said the bingo hall would be "a criminal act."

"They (the tribe) would like someone to define and articulate what exactly they’re doing wrong legally," Sommers said. "If you look at the black and white of the laws, the tribe contends that they are within their rights."

Sullivan County attorney Ira Cohen is letting the state make the call.

"Until the state changes their position or the court says it’s legal, there’s nothing we can do," he said. "We’d love to see somebody renovate the Apollo Plaza, but they have to show us a legal way to do it."

Evansville picked

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission granted approval last week for the proposed Indianapolis Downs to build and operate an off-track betting facility in Evansville.

The site is close to Kentucky’s Ellis Park and would be the first OTB parlor to service the southern part of the state. The facility would occupy 20,000 square feet in a former grocery store on the city’s east side. The cost, according to bloodhorse.com, is expected at $1.2 million to upgrade the space.

The Evansville OTB, by statute, cannot open until Indianapolis Downs opens for live racing the first week in December. The track would be located in nearby Shelbyville

And is expected to generate more than $600,000 a year in tax revenues.

Ellis Park, located on the Evansville border, is open year-round for simulcasting.

Chicago wants casino

The Illinois Gaming Board Administration, knowing how much Chicago can use some additional capital, is entertaining the prospect of going after the license being dropped by Emerald Casino Inc.

"If the City of Chicago were interested, I and my staff would be happy to brief (Mayor Daley) or his representatives," Board administrator Philip Parenti told the Chicago Sun Times.

The city is looking for ways to erase a $115 million budget shortfall. Alderman Burton F. Natarus, who represents downtown, said a casino would provide "a tremendous source of revenue and be a mecca for tourism. We ought to think about it."

However, Daley said he is unaware of the city’s interest.

"It hasn’t even come over my radar screen," he said.

Arizona ballot full

Arizona voters will have three questions relating to casino-style gambling on the November election ballots.

According to The Arizona Republic, the gaming questions are among 14 issues on the voting ballot. The gambling issues are expected to generate a flurry of advertisements and confusion.

The effort of the gaming measures is to continue casino-style gaming on the state’s Indian reservations, but with different limits and varying benefits for Arizona. The Fair Gaming Act, backed by Arizona’s racing industry, would permit the dog and horse tracks to add slot machines.

Petition drives were necessary to land the motions on the ballot after separate efforts for gaming deals died in the Legislature.