Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Rochester Leaders Discuss Downtown Casino

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Rochester: Rochester Leaders Discuss Downtown Casino
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The Seneca's reportedly want Governor Andrew Cuomo to make concessions in their agreement with New York State before the Indian Nation begins payment on the more than $500 million it owes state and local governments.

One of those concessions includes giving the Seneca's the rights to a casino in downtown Rochester. They want Rochester added to a list of possbile sites for a new gaming center and would consider developing the facility with a non-Indian partner.

"I don't want it downtown. I don't think it would change the character of our downtown and I don't think we need to do that. We can improve out downtown and we're well along with that now. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be in favor of a casino somewhere, we could do that," said Tom Richards, (D), Rochester mayor.

The idea for a casino here is nothing new. The Seneca Nation first proposed one as part of downtown development in 2011.

However, the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation doesn't believe an Indian casino would add to revitalization that's already in the works.

"The problem with them is they tend to be big boxes. You go in, the money gets sucked out of your pocket and you leave when you're broke. The entertainment, the food, sometimes even parking and hotel are all contained within some of these facilities. That doesn't help a downtown," said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Rochester Downtown Development Corporation.

One possible location that Mayor Richards says he would not be opposed to a casino is Kodak, and there have been other locations throughout Monroe County that have been floated around for a possible gaming center.

The Medley Center in Irondequoit has often been mentioned as a site for a possible casino. There has also been talk of building one at Rochester Technology Park in Gates.

County leaders say there has to be a thorough community conversation before allowing a casino to operate within Monroe County and they're closely watching what the state will do as far as future casino development.

"If they're offering it as an economic development opportunity for counties, we would somehow want to be competitive. Having said that, we have seen examples where casinos have been very successful and where they haven't worked at all," said Maggie Brooks, (R), County Executive.

The Seneca Nation of Indians had no comment on the Buffalo News report, citing a gag order imposed by the state's highest court.

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