01/12/2011 2:31PM

Group of racetracks objects to proposed Indian casino in Catskills

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A coalition of New York casino operators have asked state leaders to withdraw their support for an agreement reached by the state in December that would allow a Native American tribe to open a casino in Sullivan County.

In a letter sent on Tuesday to the state’s governor’s office, to the state’s budget and lottery directors, and to legislative leaders, the casino operators contended that the casino would draw patrons away from their existing properties and would have “significant, negative budgetary impacts for New York that should be carefully evaluated.” The letter urged the recipients to contact the Department of Interior about their objections to the agreement, which was reached between the Wisconsin Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans and former Gov. David Paterson late last year to settle land-claim issues.

The letter was issued on behalf of the owners of Finger Lakes, Buffalo Raceway, Saratoga Raceway, Monticello Raceway, and Yonkers Raceway, along with the operator of a planned casino at Aqueduct racetrack. All of the tracks operate their own casinos.

The letter claims that the Native American casino will have a competitive advantage over the existing casino operators because the tribal operation will pay less in state taxes than the existing casinos and will be able to offer tables games in addition to slot machines.

The agreement is currently being reviewed by the Department of the Interior, which must approve all gambling compacts between states and Native American tribes. The Department has until Feb. 19 to approve or disapprove the agreement, and the letter asked the recipients to request that the department hold off on a decision until the state has reviewed the economic impacts of the casino.