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Mohawks strike casino deal with New York state

Fresh off a deal with the Oneida Nation, today Governor Cuomo announced a deal to resolve gaming issues with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

The Mohawks will resume paying the state 25% of the revenues from its Akwesasne Mohawk casino near Massena. The tribe will also pay back 30 million dollars it has withheld over the last three years. St. Lawrence and Franklin counties will once again see their shares of that revenue, including immediate payments of 3.75 million dollars each.

In return, the tribe will get exclusive gaming rights across the eight-county North Country. That effectively eliminates the region as a potential site for one of the three proposed state-operated casinos, said Cuomo.

The state affirms by this agreement that the Mohawks are in good standing and therefore this region will not be part of the casino gaming bill that is moving.

The deal will bring relief to the two cash-strapped counties. Speaking in Albany today, St. Lawrence County legislature chairman Jonathan Putney said it was “a new beginning”.

Not only will this deal bring much needed revenue to local governments across the North Country, but will provide a consistent stream of revenue moving forward.

The deal does not resolve the Mohawks’ decades-old claim to 12,000 acres of land in the two counties. Cuomo said the state would renew efforts to settle that issue, too.

St. Regis Mohawk Chief Paul Thompson said the Akwesasne reservation is “bursting at the seams”. He said land matters more than money.

We have like 400 people that live in Massena because they can’t find land or housing on our territory, so this is the most important issue to us.

Just last week, the Mohawks opened a new luxury hotel as a part of a 70 million dollar casino expansion. The Mohawks have scheduled a press conference for noon tomorrow at the casino.

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