Niagara Gazette

May 20, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Seneca Niagara Casino is all we need

By Mark Daul
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking about. I hear and read about people chastising the Seneca-run casino in Niagara Falls. Now our illustrious governor is suggesting another casino bound for the Niagara area, using the excuse that “until the Seneca dispute is resolved.

Mr. Governor, you and some of your Albany cronies are creating the dispute by not honoring the agreement between the state and the Seneca’s in the first place. As I am told, the state has violated the “treaty” or contract with the Senecas by authorizing racinos. Now, the governor comes in with another pipe dream that goes something like this: “Lets bluff those people and tell them if they don’t pay up, we’ll build more casinos and put the hurt on them, then use taxpayer dollars to do it.”

Pure intimidation if you can’t see what he’s doing. Our governor already knows to do anything like that a referendum needs to be put before the voters for approval and if the first proposal is turned down by the taxpayers, another can be brought before the voters next year, which will give the lawmakers another chance to pry into the taxpayers pockets again. This has been done before several years ago in case you don’t remember, and the taxpayers/voters turned it down back then.

Some complain and cry that the casino has hurt their businesses. I have heard, “how can I compete with selling food in my restaurant? They don’t have to charge sales tax!” Hogwash. Everyone doesn’t go to the casino to eat, especially to save on sales tax! Besides, you better have a wallet full of money; they aren’t the least expensive place to go to eat. I heard the talk show guy on WLVL radio saying “look at the area around the casino, it is all run down, and renovations on Third Street has done absolutely nothing for the area.” Tell me, is that the casinos fault? Hogwash, There were bars, coffee shops & restaurants in that immediate block on Niagara between Third and Fourth streets that thrived before the people that owned those businesses retired or died. The buildings were left to rot, and should be bulldozed now. Is that the casino’s fault? Is it the casinos fault that those businesses could not adjust like Players Lounge has done so well on the corner of Fourth and Niagara?

Maybe the casino doesn’t pay property taxes but they are the only ones I know that have people working in this city that numbers up around 2,000, and are paid very well, with benefits, plus all pay income taxes! Put all your other food business employees together, and they don’t even come close to those numbers, plus who else has come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the city along, like fixing the John Daly Boulevard entrance to the city when Nik Wallenda came to town. Supposedly, the city didn’t have any money to fix that embarrassment, a major entrance to downtown. Question; this might sound minor to some, but who picked up the tab for the Fourth of July awesome fireworks display for residents, the largest in WNY? The casino is always there when it comes to supporting the city. Always.

Credit the Seneca’s for transforming their casino from the convention center, to the tune of $80 million without coming to the public trough, looking for IDA handouts like so many others have. Also credit them for building their world-class hotel without coming to the public trough. Credit the casino for bringing tourists to the city, and a lot of those are by the busloads. Is it the casino’s fault that other businesses haven’t taken advantage of this influx of people by ignoring the potential?

I do have a question: Why is it that when a hotelier wants to build a new hotel, or acquire a hotel or renovate, or even to renovate a restaurant, we need to give them taxpayers money or tax breaks to do it. Can’t we say no? I think the word is out to developers that all of Niagara is an “easy touch.”

To be clear, I am not a very good casino patron, it took me four years before I even went in it, and since then I have spent money there about five or six times. Yes, I always donated, but enjoyed the thrill, and the last time I had enough money left for a couple of $2.25 beers at Player’s Lounge, and watched the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays.

Whatever you do, IF that Cuomo referendum ever makes it to the voting booth, think about it, do we really need another casino anywhere, funded with our dollars?

Mark Daul is a former Niagara Falls homeowner, business person, retired in Youngstown.