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rouletteIn his State of the State Address, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed three casinos for Upstate New York.

The state gaming commission would decide where the casinos would be located, and they must have the support of local governments.

Could one of these casinos come to the Rochester area? Both Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack would like their facilities, dubbed “racinos,” to become full-fledged casinos. They currently only have video lottery terminals.

What about downtown Rochester? Doesn’t sound like it. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he wants them to be destinations, not located in dense places where people could “go out to lunch from working and lose a month’s pay.” I also can’t see Mayor Tom Richards going all in on a casino, but it’s not clear if he will seek reelection.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Medley Centre’s owner is lobbying for a casino.

The state may not locate a casino in this region because of its compact with the Seneca Nation, which bars competition west of Route 14. The Senecas have been withholding payments to the state and localities because they believes the Finger Lakes and Batavia racinos violate the exclusivity deal. But the Senecas’ compact expires in 2016, which isn’t too far off.

Before New York gets more casinos, the state constitution has to be amended. Cuomo wants to legalize up to seven privately-owned casinos statewide. The state legislature ratified his amendment last year. It has to ratify it a second time and then it would be voted on by all New Yorkers. A vote could happen this year.

Cuomo insists casinos are economic development tools and would help Upstate. That hasn’t worked out so well for Niagara Falls, as studies show casinos don’t help revitalize cities. Casinos do, however, fill state coffers.

8 Responses to Let’s Talk Casinos

  1. If we get a casino it needs to go to beebee station so it can be a”destination” or out in like Kodak park to be a stand alone. Maybe the old power plant in Greece or Medley Center, although that could reward congel when they’ve done nothing so far. The market will probably be saturated and it’ll olny draw money from locals, but the state doesn’t care as long as they get cash and grandma loves the one armed bandit.

  2. January 10, 2013 at 1:54 am greybear52 responds:

    we need casinos like a fish needs a bicycle,this state has enough problems without throwing gambling into the mix.and we have enough casinos as it is with turning stone and finger lakes.are we trying to make gambling more accessable to the problem gambler ? you want to fill the coffers leaglize and tax marijuana,way less problematic and would be a windfall for N.Y.

  3. January 10, 2013 at 7:41 am Animule responds:

    Here is Cuomo’s direct quote on the subject: “I believe casinos in upstate New York could be a great magnet to bring the New York City traffic up,” Cuomo said. From today’s D&C.

    How anyone could construe this to mean the construction of casinos in areas that are a good 5 hour drive from New York City is ridiculous. He’s talking about either the Catskills region (think those old Jewish summer resorts like Grossinger’s, for instance) or Orange County. He’s not talking about Rochester.

    Casinos are a tax on the dumb. If you check out the clientele at Finger Lakes, it’s lower class and lower middle class poor – voluntarily giving tax payments to the state in exchange for “entertainment.” And it’s a predatory industry. It did not get much publicity, but I believe Cuomo recently (within the last 12 months or so) signed into law a bill that allows these racinos to stay open until 4:00 am. Frankly, I am surprised that the lobbying groups for the “poor” like the House of Mercy and more made no attempt to block this. But that says a lot about the real agenda of these groups.

  4. I think legalizing casinos is a great idea. That said it should be the Race Tracks that get them. They are established, they have land and thus room to build. A place like Batavia may not be able to expand so much but FL has room and is extremely popular. I look at this alot like the idea of building the BILLS a stadium in downtown Buffalo…What would you then do with the current building and infrastructure? In the stadium case you can’t just say you would knock it down and turn it into commercial and residential property and hope people flock in. Same goes with the casinos. What would happen to FL or Batavia if a full range casino was built somewhere else in the area (Medley, Kodak, Downtown, wherever)? Would they lose a huge chunck of their clientel? Would they go out of business completely? That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Both “Racinos” are established and have the business model and structure in place to expand if given the opportunity. It makes the most sense in my opinion to let them have it because they are already following state gaming laws and are in best position to succeed and give customers the type of gambling experience they would want.

    Sidenote: The people who attend these places are not all lower class or lower working class. They are regular people who do not want to drive over two hours to gamble in a smoke filled room. There is nothing wrong with that.

  5. January 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm Casinofan responds:

    I am a frequent visitor to casinos. At the casino, I make it a point to ask where the other players are from and I can tell you from personal experience that if I have to describe a typical table of 7, it will be 3 from Rochester,2 from Toronto,2 from Buffalo and 1 from out of New York. Barring legal issues with the Senecas, it would make sense to haave cainos in Fingerlakes, Catskills and Empire Region

  6. January 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    The only place in Upstate New York where a new casino should be in my opinion would be on the former Beebee power plant site in the High Falls district on the edge of downtown Rochester. I also hope the Senecas and the state resolve their differences and that money from the Seneca Niagara Casino start flowing to the City of Niagara Falls, NY again to continue to revitalize that city and that any amendment to the NYS Constitution also formally legalize the existing Indigenous American casinos and all existing racinos, indigenous or not, in the state.

  7. Casinos are a negative for NYS. It drains money from the people who work and gives back to the 1%. Communities don’t benefit from casinos and they get no benefit.

  8. January 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm Animule responds:

    Rachel, you need to do some more digging on this story. Here’s what the New York Post said in June: “Gov. Cuomo is coming under fire following the disclosure that gambling interests have provided at least $2.4 million to his unofficial advocacy group, the Committee to Save New York. That’s because the governor has become an enthusiastic advocate of the wholesale expansion of casino gambling in New York.”


    If you follow the money on this, it now looks a lot more like this obsession with casino gambling is based on securing major current and probably future (presidential run) campaign contributions than anything that will really help out Western New York. I’d love to hear what promises Cuomo made to the companies behind the casinos to keep the money gusher flowing. There is too much money sloshing around here to believe any other scenario.

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