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Casino Referendum Targets Niagara Falls Specifically

By Mike Hudson

Seneca Niagara Casino

Niagara Falls got screwed again. By Albany. Again.

The casino referendum proposed by Gov. Andre Cuomo in August and passed by the state legislature last month was approved on Election day by voters statewide and paves the way for as many as seven non-Indian casinos to be opened across New York.

All the major players are involved - Caesar’s, Genting, Crown Resorts, MGM Resorts International and a dozen others. The communities chosen to host these big-time gambling casinos will benefit from thousands of jobs and huge direct property tax payments.

"The passage of Proposal One is a big win for local governments, school districts, and taxpayers across New York State," Cuomo said in a statement. "This vote will keep hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year in neighboring states right here in New York, while increasing revenue for local schools, lowering property taxes, and bringing proper regulation to the industry."

Exactly where the new casinos are to be located is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: Niagara Falls is out of the running.

Because of Cuomo’s 10-year extension of the Seneca gaming compact earlier this year, Niagara Falls is specifically excluded in the legislation.

The compact extension, executed in the dead of night with no representation at all from local Niagara Falls or Niagara County officials, guarantees the Seneca Gaming Corp. exclusive rights to operate casinos on the Niagara Frontier.

And the casinos in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca are shabby affairs compared to the ones that will be built by the big gaming companies, as anyone who’s ever been to Las Vegas or Atlantic City can tell you.

Few would go to a Native American casino hotel if there was another option.

No one’s done the math, but the new casino hotels will certainly pull high end gamblers away from those run by the Senecas, which will result in decreased casino revenues trickling down to the city via Albany.

Niagara Falls, already the highest taxed municipality in the nation, will have to make up the difference somehow, most likely by tapping beleaguered home and business owners here for even more in taxes.

While cities such perhaps as close as Rochester, Syracuse, Troy and Rome may soon reap huge benefits from the referendum, our city will fall further behind since what is perhaps the largest private industry here will remain under the control of a foreign government.

Other cities will get richer as Niagara Falls gets poorer.

The state of New York has a long history of dumping on the city, taking away the state park, building the Robert Moses Parkway and handing over 50 acres of the most valuable property in Niagara Falls over to the Senecas.

Now, to add insult to injury, Albany has finally gotten around to doing what it should have done more than a decade ago and moved to allow real, big-time gambling across the state.

Everywhere except Niagara Falls, that is.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Nov 19, 2013