Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 25, 2014

Gaming expansion opposed

Niagara Gazette — Niagara County lawmakers oppose the expansion of casino gaming by the Seneca Nation of Indians in Monroe County.

In a unanimous vote this week, members of the Niagara County Legislature adopted a resolution formally expressing their opposition to the Senecas’ plan to build a Las Vegas-style casino near Rochester. Lawmakers in Orleans and Wyoming counties also recently passed resolutions opposing the Senecas’ proposal. 

The Seneca Nation recently hired Rochester-area developer and lobbyist David Flaum to organize, coordinate and lobby for gaming and hospitality development in Monroe County.

The site for the new, tax-free Seneca casino is hoped to be in the Town of Henrietta, a southern suburb of Rochester located off route 90. The Senecas are looking to build a new $150 million, 65,000-square-foot casino.

During Tuesday’s legislature meeting, county lawmaker Michael Hill, R-Hartland, expressed concern that another casino would harm the operations of Western Regional Off Track Betting. The Western Regional OTB Corp. is a public benefit corporation owned and operated by the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, as well as 15 counties including Niagara and Monroe.

“Expansion of casino gaming would affect them,” Hill said.

OTB employs about 500 people, Hill said. It also makes an annual payment of $250,000 to the county. Batavia Downs, run by OTB, is located near the proposed casino site.

“Western Regional OTB thanks the Niagara County Legislature for opposing gambling expansion,” said Ryan Hasenauer, OTB marketing director, in a statement released following the legislature’s vote.

The resolution was also forwarded to state and federal leaders. 

In other matters, the legislature:

• Accepted a $24,345 state grant to buy video recording equipment to be used by the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement agencies to record interviews with suspects.

District Attorney Michael J. Violante, who applied for the grant, said Tuesday the equipment will be sent to the Sheriff’s Office and to the Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara and Lewiston police departments. Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda and Lockport police already record interviews, but Niagara Falls has multiple interview rooms and was in need of more equipment, Violante said.

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