November 28, 2006, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe announced that they plan to remodel their modest bingo facility into a bigger and better equipped gaming facility. The proposed expansion project will include a 400 room hotel and a multi-purpose room that can host 850 people, as well as the relocation of the Mohawk Bingo Palace into the main casino site to lower their operating expenses.
According to the Mohawk Tribal Chief, Barbara Lazore, their gambling operations are performing at such a level that they need to take the next step forward in order to develop into something greater and exceed their current performance. The tribe's main casino site, the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, has continued to grow since its opening in 1999. After receiving the appropriate approval from Gov. George Pataki regarding the gaming compact by the tribe, the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino has proceeded to enlarge their gaming floor by putting in more slot machines.
During weekends, the AMC is filled up to 85% of its total capacity. Chief Lazore said that if they do not expand and grow as a business, they will lose their momentum. She further added that their other facility, the Mohawk Bingo Palace, which opened its doors during the early 1980's, has provided millions and millions of profits for the tribe, mainly due to the Class II video gaming machines and the high-stakes bingo games that the facility holds.
Although the facility is currently financially feasible in its current location, the main building itself already needs repair and the tribe officials realized that it is necessary for a new one. They believe that moving the new building into the same site would be a good idea. By adding a hotel to the gaming facility, most of the customers of the casino who travel across the border from Canada will not be forced to endure a drive home. The additional funding generated by the expanded facility will be used to fund the tribe's medical clinic because it no longer receives enough funding from state and federal programs to fully provide health care for its members. As a result, the tribe has had to contribute millions from its gaming revenue to cover the leftover costs from the operation of the clinic.
Tribal Chief Lorraine White said that they need to pursue this plan because money will not be falling from the sky if they just sit and do nothing. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has already hired Klas Robinson, a consulting firm, to handle the project and it is Klas Robinson who suggested combining the sites instead of maintaining 2 separate gaming facilities in different locations. The tribe also plans to build a shopping area, 8 restaurants, a dining area, a retail area, ballrooms, meeting rooms, a parking area with a capacity of about 1,000 vehicles and an additional outdoor parking area for about 2,000 vehicles.
Chief White said that they are making a new opportunity for the tribe and that they are intent on exploring this new opportunity not only for the profits, but for the welfare of the tribe. The tribe is hoping that they will be able to start building the new facility by spring. The tribe has already paid about $41 million to a private estate so that they can expand the tribe's property grounds by about 22 acres. The planned projects by the casino will also double the number of employees that the tribe can hire so it will really be beneficial to the tribe and the communities that surround the area. The casino has generated about $9 million so far for the tribe and the community and employs 700 people. The tribal council said that they have viewed this project as one of the largest projects that northern New York has seen in years. The benefits from these projects will not only be felt by the tribe, but by everybody.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006