Monday, March 3, 2014

[UPDATED] Senecas show they're serious by buying land in Henrietta for a casino

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 3:36 PM

The Seneca Gaming Corporation has acquired a 32-acre property on Clay Road, which runs between Brighton-Henrietta Town Line Road and Hylan Drive, in Henrietta for a possible casino. A press release did not disclose what the company, an affiliate of the Seneca Nation of Indians, paid for the property. It did say that the property is "a potential site where the corporation believes it can develop a thriving entertainment destination."

In August, the Seneca Nation hired local commercial real estate firm Flaum Management to help find a possible casino site in Henrietta.

The press release says that no "set development plans" are in place, but that the corporation is interested in building a casino, hotel, and retail space. The press release included this statement from Kevin W. Seneca, chair of the Seneca Gaming Corporation's board:
“We plan to take a very deliberate approach to reviewing and developing any potential project in the Rochester area. Now that we have acquired property, we will begin the process of engaging the community and its leaders in dialogue on how a potential Seneca development could fit within and benefit Henrietta and the surrounding area. In fact, thanks to recent changes in New York State law pertaining to Indian gaming, our existing casinos will drive significant revenue into this area. Locating a Seneca facility here will only build on that benefit. I don’t know if that has been articulated. It will be soon enough.”
During a recent interview, Henrietta Supervisor Jack Moore said he expected to hear a proposal from the Senecas within two or three months after they close on a property. But Moore also said it's not unclear what role the town would play in approving any proposal. Some attorneys say the town has limited input, while other attorneys say the town and county have to offer letters of support.

Regardless, a coalition led by Western Regional Off-Track Betting and Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing has pushed for the town to oppose a Seneca Casino. Recently, the No More Casinos Coalition presented the Henrietta Town Board with a petition with approximately 1,600 signatures. The group says a Seneca casino won't benefit the area's economy and could harm existing racinos.

The No More Casinos Coalition sent out a press release shortly after 4 p.m., urging the Henrietta Town Board to take action to prevent a Seneca casino in the town. But the press release doesn't say what action the town should or could take.

Any casino development might be a ways off, anyway. The Seneca Nation already owns and operates three casinos in Western New York, which is the maximum allowed under its gaming compact with New York State. If it wants to build a fourth, the State Legislature would have to agree to amend the compact. It's tough to predict how the Legislature would react to the request, especially since the state is starting a process to select private casino development proposals in other parts of the state.

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