A report by the Buffalo News suggests that the Seneca Nation’s Buffalo Creek Casino has not fully lived up to its promise of economic prosperity in the western New York city.
The casino, which employs 459 workers, has not verified that it is spending $1.7 million per year to market outside the immediate area, which is part of its deal with the city, the News reported, and it seems to be drawing mostly local patrons and those from right across the Canadian border. The casino also has not fulfilled the requirement of an annual marketing presentation for the Common Council.
“The city was made a lot of unrealistic promises. Not surprisingly, those have not been delivered,” said Sam Magavern, co-director of the anti-casino group Partnership for the Public Good. Mayor Byron W. Brown disagrees, and calls the city’s pact with the Senecas “a good deal for Buffalo.”
The tribe initially planned to build a $330 million casino hotel in downtown Buffalo. That plan was derailed by the economic downturn, and the Senecas abandoned the original plan in favor of a smaller $130 million complex on the waterfront.
“Smaller is better because it means less gambling is going on,” Magavern said. “But it did reveal that the tourist idea wasn’t a reality.”
The News reports that the Brown administration has not acted to enforce any provision in the agreement, and the casino has not upheld its pledge to retain one-third of its land for green space. Local Council Member David A. Franczyk, who supported the 2006 deal, said the Senecas need to be held accountable. “It’s certainly not Vegas. It’s a basic shell. It’s a middling casino,” he said. “But I wouldn’t come down like the wrath of Khan.”
The tribe’s compact with the state provides for three casinos in western New York. The Senecas obviously want to change the terms of that deal; they recently acquired a tract of land in the town of Henrietta, south of Rochester, with hopes of building a casino there. That plan has met with opposition from the community. Five New York state senators and nine Assembly members have sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo saying they oppose it too.
“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 senators in their joint letter. The nine members of the state Assembly who signed the letter said they “vehemently” oppose the casino, which would compete with Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes Gaming, components of Western Regional Off-Track Betting.