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Bingo games might move

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HOGANSBURG — The Mohawk Bingo Palace, an institution of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe for more than a decade, may be closing this summer.

The gaming operation will not disappear, however. It may move to share the space at the newer Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, located about a mile east. Tribe members will make the final decision in a referendum at the end of this month.

The referendum will ask tribe members if they support a $75 million expansion of the casino to include a hotel and a larger casino, including the machines from the Bingo Palace.

"I do support a hotel being built, because there were feasibility studies conducted and these feasibility studies clearly indicated a hotel project constructed immediately adjacent to the casino would be a good decision," said Lorraine M. White, a lawyer and former tribal chief. "I just have some questions with respect to the addition of the Class II gaming adjacent to the casino itself."

Class II gaming comprises bingo games, whether on machines or played by hand. Class III gaming machines are slot machines, as well as card games, craps and roulette.

The tribe has discussed building a hotel near the casino for years. It planned to build one shortly after the first phase of expansion was completed last year, but the project was delayed indefinitely because of the weak economy.

The 21/2-year, $55 million expansion project included the addition of a sports bar, restaurant and food court, as well as a gift shop and expanded game floor in a Sprung fabric structure.

If the referendum passes, the bingo machines could move into the Sprung structure and another wing would be added for the casino's slot machines.

Years ago, the tribe planned to build a 400-room hotel, but scaled it back to 200 rooms in 2007. The current hotel plan continues to call for 200 guest rooms, according to Ms. White.

The vote will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 30. Three public-information sessions have been scheduled, for 6 p.m. April 20 and 27 and 10 a.m. April 23. The meetings and the vote will take place in the lobby of the tribal administration building.

Members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council were unavailable for comment. Officials from the casino and Bingo Palace declined to comment.

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