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May 16, 2014 - 12:19pm

Western OTB responds to Senecas suspending Henrietta casino effort

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

Press release:

In a letter to Monroe County Legislator Justin Wilcox, Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder Sr. announced that the Seneca Nation will no longer pursue the siting of a casino development project in Henrietta or Monroe County at this time. Subsequently, representatives of Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation expressed appreciation to the people of the region for voicing their opposition to the proposal.

In the letter to Wilcox, Snyder stated, “We will not engage in the demanding and complex process required to get a casino approved pursuant to the laws and regulations governing Indian gaming without the support of the local community and New York State.”

To date, 17 towns and 11 counties, as well as the 19-member Inter-County Association of Western New York, have taken formal action opposing the expansion of casino gaming in Henrietta and Monroe County. In addition, 15 members of the State Legislature from across Western and Central New York have publicly expresses their opposition to the proposed expansion of casino gaming in the region. Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that public support is critical when weighing the decision to expand casino gaming in the state. 

“From businesses, church groups, civic organizations, and everyday people from across the region to state leaders and local municipalities, the opposition to a casino in Monroe County has been overwhelming,” said Michael P. Nolan, executive vice president/COO of WROTB. “Clearly the Seneca Nation has heard the will of the people and responded accordingly.”

While acknowledging the Seneca Nation’s cessation of its efforts to expand casino gaming in Monroe County at this time, Nolan understands that the Senecas could reinitiate their efforts at a later date.

“If in the future the Seneca Nation should move forward with a proposal to expand casino gaming in Monroe County, we will once again emphatically oppose such a plan,” Nolan said. “The people of Monroe County recognize the fact that a Seneca-owned casino would adversely impact the local community and give the Seneca Nation a competitive advantage that will be damaging to businesses, both large and small, across the region. That is something that the people of this community are unwilling to accept, and they resoundingly made that point.”

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. WROTB owns and operates 29 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western OTB has generated more than $215 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.

terry paine
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Sadly they buckled to the pressure of 28 groups of people elected by a majority of a minority.

The operators of the WROTB seem content with the restriction the anti business cancer known as The State of NY infects them with, and even more content to inflict that same cancer on businesses in surrounding areas.

Kyle Slocum
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I am not a fan of the idea of more gaming operations in the state, in fact I am opposed to more casinos in the state.

But, I have to say I am disturbed that a government entity (Western OTB) is lobbying on behalf of its monopoly status with money that it has at its disposal solely because of its privileged position as a government controlled monopoly.

I am also disturbed by the tone of the radio ads paid for by groups opposing the Monroe County siting of a casino: They come across as racist screeds against Native Americans.

I also note that it is an election year, which at least explains Prince Andrew's sudden awareness of "public support" being critical to anything relating to a government decision.

John Roach
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I don't like the idea of the State being in businesses, but I don't like the Seneca's being allowed a monopoly either. They are allowed to offer services that WROTB is not The State should not be running a casino and the Seneca's should not be allowed their monopoly.

Since WROTB is not allowed to fairly compete with the Seneca's, I am glad they decided to pull the plug on a Monroe County casino. It would have hurt us in Batavia.

Howard B. Owens
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A bit tangential ... I've always said Batavia Downs should be allowed to run a sports book. If they can't have table games, at least a sports book. Would be a huge hit.

Turns out, I didn't realize, that would be a against Federal law. NJ voters approved sports gambling and all the major sports leagues filed a lawsuit to stop it and have so far won every step of the way. The only way it gets overturned is if the US Supreme Court takes on the case. NJ says it's a states rights thing.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20140507/sports-gambling/

Raymond Richardson
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What saddens me is that here is an opportunity to get people, many of whom have made it a life career, off the public dole and into a job. Here to is an opportunity to increase a local tax base greatly, and it won't happen.

I'm willing to bet, that there is a significant number of these NIMBY naysayers who frequent the Seneca Niagara Casino, or cross the border and gamble at the Falls View.

Good old American double standard, do as I say, not as I do.

Howard B. Owens
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How does a casino in Monroe County increase the local tax base?

If anything, it would draw business from Batavia Downs, thereby hurting the local tax base.

Scott Ogle
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"Turns out, I didn't realize, that would be a against Federal law."

How is it then, they can run sports book in Las Vegas, or am I wrong that it's allowed there? I agree with you it would be a sensation at Batavia Downs. Local trivia note: do you recall Batavia Downs made a cameo appearance in 'The Sopranos', wherein Tony goes on tilt while gambling, chasing a losing streak?

Howard B. Owens
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From the SI article:

"On Aug. 7, 2012, MLB, the NFL, NBA, NHL and NCAA collectively sued Governor Chris Christie, who signed the bill. In a 12-page complaint the plaintiffs claim that the law violates the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which limits sports betting to Nevada and several other states."

I didn't know about the Sopranos connection. Thanks.

Howard B. Owens
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tom hunt
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Thanks Howard for the bit of TV history. Batavia was also mentioned in episode of the Simpsons when Marge sent out for pizza from Batavia for the local unionized employees of he pretzel making business she started.

Raymond Richardson
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Howard,

I didn't say the local tax base, I said a local tax base, meaning for the Town of Henrietta and Monroe County(remember, I live in Rochester, not Batavia).

Let me ask you this, as I've heard this same argument many times before:

How much of an impact was the Seneca Niagara Casino to the Batavia Downs Slotcino, when it opened?

Since Batavia is roughly the halfway point between Rochester and Buffalo, it seems to me that if it had any impact at all on the Slotcino's revenues, it would have been significant.

John Roach
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Raymond,
It might be hard to guess how much Seneca Niagara took from Batavia. They get money from Niagara County that probably never came here since it could go over the boarder to Canada. And of course, they get money coming over from Canada that probably never came here. A better question would be how much of a drop off was there when the casino in Buffalo opened.

Raymond Richardson
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John,

It seems to me the OTB wants to have a controlling monopoly on gaming, especially slot gaming, in WNY.

If we were to measure the ends justifying the means, would it not be a greater good to create thousands of jobs, which a full casino and hotel has the potential to do, and get the majority of the workers from the welfare base? Just think of it, tax dollars being saved on open welfare cases, increasing the tax base for the local area where a casino would open, providing more tax dollars for much more needed programs, locally; etc.

I mean NFN, but if a choice were to go a Batavia Downs, with limited gaming, or to a casino with more than just slot machines, I would rather go to a full casino with more gaming options.

My wife and I have been to the Downs, and it is a nice place, but I was bored after a while as I don't play slots, nor do I bet on horse races. I prefer the option of card games, roulette, or craps.

Oh and BTW, there is also the Turning Stone Casino as well to factor in.

John Roach
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Raymond, I have no problem with WROTB going private, and becoming a full fledged casino, if it was allowed. But I would want the monopoly given the Indian casinos ended also. Right now, NYS will not allowed to happen.

How would you arrange to get the majority of the workers from people on welfare?

Howard B. Owens
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If it were up to me, investors could build casinos anywhere local zoning laws allow. That would be a free market.

But when it comes to gambling, we don't have a free market.

So long as Batavia Downs is denied the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, I'll happily go along with any and all opposition to casino's being built anywhere else in the region. If there's even a small chance it could draw revenue from Genesee County, then I'm opposed, no matter how grand and wonderful it might be for Monroe County.

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