Harness-racing and soon-to-be casino operator Empire Resorts' (NASDAQ:NYNY) stock has been on a tear for the last two days. It has risen from $8.56 on Wednesday to a high of $14.75 today. What caused the stock to climb over 70%? The answer lies with a tribe of Native Americans that, as of 2003, had been landless for over 200 years.

Up to now, a big day for this company, located 40 miles outside of New York City, was when wagering exceeded $1 million. But in April of 2003, Empire joined forces with the Cayuga Nation of New York to file an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Secretary of the Interior to acquire in trust, on behalf of the Nation, a 30-acre parcel of land (adjacent to Empire's harness-racing track) in Monticello, New York.

The land would be used to build a Class III casino where craps, cards, slot machines, and other casino-style games can be played. Many gaming investors are familiar with profitable Multimedia Games (NASDAQ:MGAM), which supplies electronic games to Native American casinos with Class II licenses. A Class II license does not require state consent, but it does not offer the profit opportunities that a Class III license does.

With its Class III license, the Cayuga Nation is targeting gamblers who would be headed up Interstate 95 to Native American casinos at Foxwood and Mohegan Sun or those headed for a multi-hour drive to the Atlantic City gaming establishments owned by Caesar's (NYSE:CZR), Trump (NYSE:DJT), MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGG), Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD), Aztar (NYSE:AZR) and Harrah's (NYSE:HET). This is a large and expanding market, and it is likely some drivers will take scenic Route 17 to Monticello, which is in the Catskills.

Empire had no revenue in 2002 or the first nine months of 2003. Its fate rested solely on its ability to restructure -- which it announced today. Are micro-cap Empire and a 475-member Native American community ready for prime time? They better be. Gaming heavyweight Caesars is going to open a casino with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe -- in Monticello! Empire's $500 million facility will open first. That may be their only advantage.

Empire's stock is rocketing because the market thinks uncertainty has been removed -- but plenty of it still remains. The company's current funding (which mainly has been handled through issuing shares) has to be ironed out. Another tribe, which New York drivers on Route 17 would reach first, may have Class III plans. And then there is Caesar's. Empire has the jump on a giant opportunity. But, at this time, it is unclear if the stock is worthy of consideration.

While writing this Take, W.D. Crotty has been watching the birth of a calf. Mother and daughter are doing fine. Empire shareholders are certainly doing fine today. Do you want to discuss gambling with other investors? Try the Motley Fool's Gamblin' Fools discussion board. For a 30-day free trial to the discussion boards, click here.

You can e-mail W.D. at wdcrotty@fool.com.