Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 20, 2012

Local lobbyists helping the OTB

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — When it comes to gaming expansion, Maziarz said he supported first passage in the state legislature under a bill that referenced seven locations, but did not describe any specific details. Moving forward, he said he will support what is expected to be a more-detailed gaming expansion bill only if he feels it benefits communities in his district, including those in Niagara County.

Amending the state's constitution to allow for expanded gaming offerings would require approvals by two separately elected legislatures. State lawmakers cleared the first hurdle earlier this year. A second vote could come as soon as next year.

"If this benefits my district, I'm going to support it," Maziarz said.

Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, challenged the wisdom of the resolution supporting expanded gaming offerings at Batavia Downs when it was first introduced, arguing that it is not in Niagara County's best interest to advocate for casino gaming at locations in Erie County. He said his stance hasn't changed.

Virtuoso said he has not been contacted by Winter or any representative from Richardson Management on behalf of OTB, but noted that Winter's company represented Catholic Health earlier this year when it secured a contract to provide home health care services in Niagara County.

"I think we shouldn't be endorsing casinos in other areas," he said. "It's not going to give us any economic development whatsoever. We should be lobbying for another casino in Niagara Falls that would provide construction jobs for our people here."

Winter's profile on the Richardson Management website promotes the fact that he has extensive experience in state and regional government. In addition to serving as Maziarz's chief of staff, Winter has served as a commissioner on the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and as a director on the board for the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency. Winter also owns and operates Winter Jewelry, a Buffalo-based fine jewelry outlet specializing in wholesale diamond sales and is the co-founder of Hats, Gloves and Love, LLC, a charity that provides hats and glove to needy local families.

Winter did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

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