Niagara Gazette

May 22, 2013

Governor mum on casino talks

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — He didn't have much to say on the subject, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo did offer a few comments about the possible future of casino gaming in Western New York. 

Cuomo visited the State University of New York at Buffalo campus on Wednesday to announce plans to create new tax-free incentive zones near college campuses within the SUNY system. 

In response to questions from media gathered at the UB campus in Amherst, Cuomo described gaming compacts between the state and various Native American tribes, including the Senecas, Mohawks and Oneidas, as  "dysfunctional" for years.

Cuomo has successfully negotiated new gaming revenue sharing agreements with the Mohawks and Oneidas in the last week.  

"One of the things I wanted to do is actually get these compacts operable so the tribes are making the payments they're supposed to be," Cuomo said.

Cuomo offered no new information about negotiations with the Seneca Nation of Indians which operates three casinos in Western New York, including Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls.

In recent weeks, Cuomo has suggested the state is considering placing a state-authorized casino within the Senecas' exclusivity territory should the Indian tribe fail to come to the table to discuss a revenue settlement. 

State lawmakers are considering a plan to amend the state Constitution to legalize casino gaming statewide. The effort would require approval by voters in a public referendum. Cuomo has suggested successful legalization could lead to the development of another casino in the Niagara region, including, possibly, one in Niagara Falls.  

On Wednesday, Cuomo said Western New York remains a possible site for a state-authorized "resort destination" and casino.

"We'll leave it to the private market to find and propose the best sites," Cuomo said. "Then the state can pick the best plans from the private developers."

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257