Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 8, 2013

Sites no sure bet

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

Blais said a new casino right in Lake George would violate New York's exclusivity agreement with Mohawk Indians, who run a casino near the Canadian border. Similarly, a new western New York casino could run afoul of the exclusivity agreement New York has with the Seneca Indians, who operate casinos in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca.

Both tribes have been withholding revenue-sharing payments from the state, claiming their exclusive gambling territories are already being encroached. A settlement of the Seneca dispute, which is now being arbitrated, could have a bearing on new casino development in western New York.

Under Cuomo's plan, the first three casinos would be located upstate in a process overseen by the New York State Gaming Commission, the new regulatory body to which he will appoint five of the seven commissioners. But top lawmakers have already made clear they want a role.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island has mentioned a possible casino in his region and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has raised the possibility of sites in Brooklyn and Queens.

Cuomo, in a public radio interview Thursday, stressed that he wants the siting issue steered clear of the Legislature. "I am going to have nothing to do with a politically driven process," he said.

Meanwhile, some downstate politicians have raised questions about casinos in their midst. New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem, said she has "serious concerns" about the social costs of a casino near the city, especially if it shuts out minority- and women-owned businesses.

"Any sort of decision which is this major — and obviously opening up a casino is major — it really should have community input in some ways," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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