Updated from 11:08 a.m. EST

Shares of Empire Resorts ( NYNY) surged 15% Friday following a report that the federal government approved an environmental review of the company's Catskills casino project.

The company owns a harness racing track outside Monticello, N.Y., on which the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Tribe is looking to develop a $600 million casino project. Empire would build the casino. The current site already features 1,500 electric gambling machines, such as video poker.

The New York Times reported that James Cason, the associate deputy secretary for Indian affairs at the Interior Department, said that the agency determined the proposed casino would not have a significant environmental impact.

The approval would be a significant step forward for the project, which has been delayed amid political issues and opposition from rivals in Atlantic City, N.J.

Cason wasn't immediately available for comment Friday. Nedra Darling, an Interior Department spokeswoman, said a so-called Finding of No Significant Impact, or FONSI, has not been not signed yet.

"I think we're near the process to end and it be signed, but we're not there today," Darling said.

Empire Resorts indicated in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing Friday that it has not received notificication of a FONSI.

"In the event that Empire Resorts, Inc. receives notification that the Tribe has received a FONSI, it will report such information," the company said.

Empire shares recently were up $1.24 to $9.67. The stock earlier hit an intraday 52-week high of $10.20. The stock's previous 52-week high of $8.83 was reached in October; the shares traded at a 52-week low of $4.12 in March.

If you liked this article you might like

Large Homebuilder May Be Near Bankruptcy

Large Homebuilder May Be Near Bankruptcy

Housing Data Suggest Bottoming (Update)

Housing Data Suggest Bottoming (Update)

Home Sales Rise in July as Prices Fall

Home Sales Rise in July as Prices Fall

Sovereign Could Feel Fannie, Freddie Pain

Sovereign Could Feel Fannie, Freddie Pain

Stimulus Checks Lessen Home Depot Pain

Stimulus Checks Lessen Home Depot Pain