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March 24, 2014 - 3:58pm

Casino developer threatens Western OTB with suit for filing request for investigation

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business, Western OTB.


Tensions are rising over a proposed Seneca Casino in Henrietta.

The law firm for Rochester developer David Flaum -- who’s working with the Senecas to explore a Las Vegas-style casino in Henrietta -- has written a letter to Western Regional Off-Track Betting threatening legal action.

It’s over the complaint filed by WROTB to the state ethics board over alleged illegal lobbying activities. The complaint seeks exploration of potential violations of the state’s lobbying law between the Seneca Gaming Corporation/Seneca Nation and Flaum. Batavia Downs CEO Michael Nolan told WBTA at the time of the filing that “evidence exists to support the conclusion that Mr. Flaum and Flaum Rochester have been acting as unregistered lobbyists and have accepted a contingent-based employment from the Nation.

Also some evidence exists to support that the Nation and the Seneca Gaming Corporation are considered lobbying clients of Mr. Flaum and Flaum Rochester and have failed to submit required semiannual reports.”

The developer’s attorney called the complaint “fabricated” and that if it wasn’t dropped, they would sue OTB.

OTB officials say it’s well within their right to seek an opinion from the ethics panel.

“We just submitted the complaint to JCOPE, which is a state commission that’s tasked with interpreting if a contract of this type falls within the ethics law,” OTB President and CEO Michael Kane said. “That’s all we’ve done.”

Multiple municipalities and politicians have voiced their opposition to the casino, saying it would have negative effects on Batavia Downs and the area.

The Senecas purchased 32 acres of land in the Town of Henrietta earlier this month.

William Millen
William Millen's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 day ago
Joined: Aug 10 2009 - 12:19pm

First of all, let me be clear, I am in full support of the jobs and the money that Batavia Downs generates for Genesee County. But, with that being said I am not surprised that management at WROTB/Batavia Downs would file a complaint such as this. Their complaint is a sign of weakness by management, and it shows that the Seneca Nation is a threat to their own personal jobs. The sad part is that WROTB/Batavia Downs is a poorly managed business, they treat their employees like garbage, and unless you are part of the “in club” they don’t give a crap about you whether you are an employee or a customer.

As for the casino/racinos, there is already an over saturation in this area and in 15-20 years only the strong will survive. In the end there will be a plethora of unoccupied buildings falling apart and costing tax payers money. This whole move to build casino after casino is crazy, it’s a novelty that will wear off unfortunately just like horse racing.

I am aware that some people may take offense to this comment, but I have seen too many people hurt by the people who run WROTB/Batavia Downs over the past 10 years. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the management who continually thinks they are better than anyone else, and will back stab anyone who isn’t part of their “in club”.

Darlene Desjardins
Darlene Desjardins's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: Dec 31 2013 - 5:43pm

Wow that was brutal. May I ask? Are you a former employee? Just curious.

William Millen
William Millen's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 day ago
Joined: Aug 10 2009 - 12:19pm

Yes, I am a former employee and I know what people may think, disgruntled former employee. But, it’s more like disappointed former employee in the management.

Fred GUNDELL's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 12:59pm

Wow, William you sound angry. Let me add a little bit. First of all, the person responsible for all the Casino debate is our wonderful Governor. He gave away western NY to the Seneca. This sovereign land is BS. That was wrong, and probably unconstitutional. Our weak local reps stayed real quiet about the topic. The fact that OTB is a bad organization is no secret. Heck, how many people have you ever known to lose money booking horse bets?? They did! I never knew a bookie who lost money, but OTB did.

We can not smoke in the parks here, but they can poison the employees and customers with the cancer rooms at BD. Just walk by when some one opens the doors.

I do disagree with how they treat customers. I have always been treated well. But I have also heard employee rumblings behind the Players desk, and out on the gaming floor as well.

Mark Potwora
Mark Potwora's picture
Last seen: 2 days 7 hours ago
Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm

I agree with all Fred said..He is right that it is Coumo who made the deal that Batavia would not have table games and would drop casino from anything to do with Batavia..Government has no right being in the slot machine business they should not also be owning a horse racing track that they oversee regulate and allow bets on..The state would be wise to sell the whole thing to the highest bidder...Let it be private.If the Seneca's want a casino in Henrietta let them BUT they must be treated as any other business....The blame belongs to Coumo.Why aren't all these locality's going after Albany instead of protesting that Henrietta not be allowed to have a casino like other area's..Who are we to tell any city or town what they can or can't do..No freedom of choice here...

C. M. Barons
C. M. Barons's picture
Last seen: 2 days 16 hours ago
Joined: Jul 29 2008 - 11:56pm

Mark, if the newspaper accounts are accurate, West Henrietta residents were complaining about hosting a casino before the site was announced and before the town government was even approached. There is a huge, grass-roots opposition to a casino in Monroe County. You may recall that Rochester city planners suggested a casino, downtown. That pipedream got doused- quick. These folks aren't blaming anyone; they're shouting, "NO!"

david spaulding
david spaulding's picture
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Joined: Sep 12 2011 - 5:46pm

Legalized Racism at its best.

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