Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 13, 2013

Cuomo casino plan is quite a gamble


Niagara Gazette — Analysts say location would be a major factor in the success of a new upstate casino since it would need to be close enough to large populations. Cuomo left the location question open. But he said Thursday that casino operators couldn't go to areas where Indian tribes have exclusivity, which may rule out the Rochester and Buffalo areas. And he said the Catskills — little more than an hour from New York City — "are an obvious area."

"It's a reasonable proposition that a well-run casino in the Catskills would, in fact, siphon off some business from Connecticut and Atlantic City," said Kent Gardner, chief economist with the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester.

Cuomo said New York City could get a casino in the second phase of his proposal. But he said the state will get better deals from upstate bidders if New York City isn't an initial option. Postponing a city casino proposal would also push the issue beyond this year's mayoral race in New York City, which could complicate passage of the constitutional amendment.

Cuomo's proposal received a chilly reception from potential competitors in New York's gambling industry.

Gary Greenberg, a minority owner of Vernon Downs Hotel and Casino in central New York, said he did not see any benefit to New York racinos. He said converting existing racinos to casinos would provide a bigger economic boost.

And the leader of the Oneida Indians, who opened the state's first casino in central New York in 1993, said there are unanswered questions remaining about Cuomo's proposal.

"It is more important than ever that local communities be given assurances that they will have a voice in this process and that the state will not impose a gaming framework that will burden community resources and conflict with existing economic development," said Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

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Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
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