Governor's casino plan puts pressure on Seneca Nation

Jun 6, 2013

After months of talking, Governor Cuomo has finally released his proposal for expanding casino gambling, with hundreds of pages of legal sections.

The governor is hoping to have legislators approve the bill before they head home for the summer. It's a wide-ranging plan with something for everyone and little for some areas.

The Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls could see competition if the tribe does not strike a deal with the state.
Credit File photo

The proposed legislation gives exclusivity to Mohawk and Oneida Indian casinos while giving the Seneca Nation the stark choice of cutting a deal with Albany or seeing more casinos near nation gambling operations.

The Senecas would see competition if a deal isn't worked out with Albany over the state share of casino revenues, in turn going to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca.

Senator Mike Ranzenhofer says he wants to read the bill and see what the effect on other gaming operations might be.

"I have one casino, Batavia Downs, in my district. So I will certainly want to hear from them. Is the siting of another location going to drive that particular community's location out of business because of the location of others?," Ranzenhofer asks.

The governor's bill would eventually call for seven destination resorts, initially three Upstate and the others in the New York City area later.

The question now is if the voters of the state will approve plans for expansion of gambling. Voters have turned it down before, only to see past governors use federal law to set up gambling on Indian land and to add Indian land for more casinos.

"Putting it on the ballot and letting the people decide is one of the few areas that you can actually do a statewide referendum on. If there's an agreement on where these can be located, it will ultimately be up to the voters of the State of New York," State Senator George Maziarz says.