Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 10, 2013

GUEST VIEW: State reps need to go all in on casino

Niagara Gazette — Over the past few weeks there have been various stories regarding the expansion of casino gaming in New York, to include non-Native American casinos throughout the state, a matter that requires second passage by the state legislature and then approval, by voters, of a state constitutional amendment — two very significant hurdles. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been most vocal in shaping the conversation, but one needs to carefully read the well-chosen phrases by our governor to clearly see the implications, if any, for Western New York generally and Niagara Falls specifically.

After the governor’s first declaration that “no new casinos would come to “Y” since the state would not violate contracts “with exclusivity geographically ... that are in good standing,” the governor then decided to declare that Niagara Falls could be a site for a new nonNative American casino.

Obviously, most observers have already determined that the governor is, as they say at the poker table, bluffing, and he has chosen the most recognizable spot in the state (after New York City) to draw the battle line. On the one hand, it is gratifying that the governor recognizes the value of Niagara Falls as a location, however this becomes another example of how the state uses Niagara Falls, and Western New York, without really trying to help. Wouldn’t the better course have been for the state to agree that the Senecas pay the host communities their share ($100 million dollars) while the dispute between the Senecas and the state is sorted out? This would take pressure off local governments in the host communities, which suffered greatly despite honoring their obligations. Or, perhaps, the state could pay the host communities their share, as happened in Salamanca, whose state representatives fought for the taxpayers they serve. On the other hand, our state representatives failed to bring this message to Albany and achieve results for their constituents, maybe it’s because of campaign donations they receive, or other perks they are given, who knows. That is why I refused to accept those offers. The Niagara Falls City Council asks a good question, “Who’s fighting for little Niagara Falls?“

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