Senecas Lose Big Fish WNY Legislators Oppose Rochester Casino By Michael Caputo

In letters to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, five New York State Senators and nine Assembly Members from western and central New York banded together to oppose the expansion of casino gaming in Western New York.

In a joint letter submitted to Cuomo, Senators George D. Maziarz, Thomas F. O’Mara, Mark J. Grisanti, Michael H. Ranzenhofer said they opposed the establishment of a Seneca Nation casino in Henrietta. In a separate letter,  Sen. Patrick Gallivan said he stood with the town board in its opposition to the proposed casino. Sen. Gallivan’s district includes Henrietta.

“We believe that any expansion of gaming opportunities into Western New York will have a devastating impact on existing institutions that contribute millions of dollars to the local economy,” said the four senators in their joint letter.

The leaders of the upper house joined nine members of the New York State Assembly who sent similar cautions to Cuomo in a letter, including Steve Hawley, David DiPietro, Bill Nojay, Jane Corwin, Ray Walter, John Ceretto, Gary Finch, Robert Oaks, and William Barclay. All nine stand in opposition to expanded gaming in the region. 

The Seneca Nation of Indians announced the acquisition of 32 acres of property in the town of Henrietta as a possible site for the proposed casino. The Seneca reportedly paid $2.7 million for the property.

While the Seneca Nation claims that a casino in Henrietta will create 2,000 casino jobs, the real impact will be a net loss of hundreds, if not thousands of jobs. 

The Assembly members who signed the letter said they “vehemently” oppose the casino.

“There is no question the Western New York region needs additional economic development and jobs. But we don’t need a project like the proposed Seneca Nation casino, which will operate with an unfair competitive advantage and cause the failure of existing local businesses,” the Assembly letter stated.

Michael Nolan, COO of WROTB said Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes Gaming together create 2,944 jobs and $54.3 million in payroll. 

“A Seneca casino, which can undercut other facilities with lower taxes, lower wages and fewer regulations, is likely to put those 2,944 people with good-paying middle-class jobs out of work,” Nolan said.  “That is absolutely unacceptable, and the state cannot condone or sanction any action that would allow such an injustice to occur.”

The net loss of direct jobs would only be the beginning, as other industries and business would be severely impacted by an additional Seneca Nation casino in the region.

“The prospect of an additional casino in the region will have a far-reaching and damaging effect on businesses that rely on the success of Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes Gaming,” said WROTB President Michael D Kane. “The upstate horse industry would likely be forced out of business, and that industry in itself is responsible for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for the state.”

“We appreciate the leadership by the Western and Central NY Delegation and their willingness to stand up for what is right for their constituents,” Kane said. "We will continue to fight this proposed expansion of Native American Gaming in Monroe County."

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 31 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

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