Tribal members did not get proper advance notice; another vote will be scheduled

New York’s St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has thrown out the results of a November 21 referendum that would have ended the tribe’s longstanding plans to build an off-reservation casino in the Catskill Mountains north of New York City, saying members did not get proper advance notice of the voting.

On Monday, the tribe announced that its election board had declared the referendum - in which 178 members voted against the casino and 140 in favor of it - "null and void" because it did not meet a 30-day public notice requirement.

“There will be another referendum,” said Aimee Benedict of the tribe's public information office. “It will happen within 90 days of the date the tribal council calls it.”

The Mohawks, whose reservation lies on the Canadian border, hundreds of miles from the Catskills, had been expected to restart their partnership with Empire Resorts and pursue a casino next to Monticello Gaming & Raceway, a project they’ve pursued for more than a decade.

The referendum came at a time when a key decision affecting the prospects for off-reservation gaming nationwide is pending at the federal level. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is set to decide before year’s end whether to reverse a Bush administration policy that made it all but impossible to gain approval for such ventures.

Empire, meanwhile, has Asian financial backing and recently appointed G. Michael Brown, who ran Foxwoods Resort Casino and is the former president of Seneca Gaming Corp., as chairman of the board.