Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Senecas casino announcement: what was the point?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Yesterday's announcement that the Seneca Nation of Indians is looking at Henrietta as a possible casino site caught a lot of people by surprise, including town officials. Many people are trying to figure out what the nation's announcement is supposed to accomplish.

Last night, I caught a Twitter conversation between WROC reporter Rachel Barnhart and WHAM reporter Sean Carroll. Carroll and Barnhart, both seasoned local reporters, said that it's likely that "others" are still vying for the casino.

They're probably right. I think the announcement was meant to cause some commotion. And the cynic in me wonders if the Senecas are trying to stir up competition between Rochester-area elected officials and developers; maybe trying to see who, exactly, is interested in getting a casino and who will give the nation the most favorable terms. 
But two potential locations may not be as likely as they seem.

The Senecas have, in the past, approached Rochester officials about putting a casino in the city. But at least some city officials have reservations, which means the city may not court a casino.

Medley Centre, the dead mall in Irondequoit, is often mentioned as a potential casino site. The project's developer, Scott Congel, has reportedly talked to Indian nations about putting a casino at Medley. But Congel's tax incentive agreement with Irondequoit, the East Irondequoit School District, and the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency specifically prohibits a casino. That situation creates some complexities that don't exist at other sites. And Congel himself is not in good graces with the local governments.

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