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City of Rochester Communications Burear

City of Rochester Communications Burear

In pushing for more casinos in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said gambling is already everywhere. As this map shows, the addition of three Upstate casinos makes a saturated market even more saturated.

So, you might not say, “This is a great time to open yet another casino!”

But that’s exactly what the Oneida Indian Nation is doing. The tribe, which runs Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, is now opening the “Yellow Brick Road Casino” just outside Syracuse. Continue reading

The Seneca Nation appears very serious about putting a casino in Henrietta. The tribe spent $2.7 million to acquire 32 acres on Clay Rd. It’s a heavily-traveled area surrounded by chain hotels, chain restaurants and chain stores. It’s right off the Thruway.

The Senecas no doubt want to expand at the same time the state is allowing up to seven non-Indian casinos. One of them could be on their doorstep. Tom Wilmot, the Wilmorite mall magnate, wants to put one just over the Route 14 line in Tyre, Seneca County. Other developers want to open casinos in the Southern Tier. This is all too close for comfort for the Senecas.

The Senecas have to act now or risk losing a slice of the Rochester pie they share with the Oneidas’ Turning Stone.

Here are some questions:

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Seneca Allegany Casino

1. What would a Henrietta casino look like? It’s highly doubtful this will be some giant Vegas-style gambling palace. In the land of the Henrietta big boxes, this will likely be a big box, with a hotel on top, surrounded by a garage or parking lot. That’s what the Senecas build, though they dress up the boxes with nice lights. 

2. How will existing hotels be affected? There are a lot of hotels already along Jefferson Rd. Double Tree and the RIT Inn and Conference Center have banquet and meeting facilities. Their occupants pay sales and room taxes, while the Seneca guests do not.

3. How will existing restaurants be affected? Casinos are designed to get you in the door and keep you there. No sales taxes and free booze are enticements. Casino proponents talk about choice and free enterprise. But it’s important to note tribal casinos do not play by the same rules as everyone else.

4. How will Marketplace Mall be affected? Keep in mind that Monroe County and Henrietta taxpayers are already in deep with tax breaks to the mall. Local homeowners are paying more in taxes so the mall can succeed. Will a casino mess things up? The Senecas say they want retail at the casino. One thing to remember about casinos is that when one opens up, we don’t suddenly have more money to spend. (On a side note, I mentioned above that the Senecas are playing defense with Wilmorite, which owns Marketplace. One could say a Henrietta casino means war.)

5. What will the Senecas pay Monroe County and the Town of Henrietta? How will the payments be used? Will town and county residents see their property taxes go down when the casino opens? (Name one municipality where that happened.) Will there be a clause that forbids the Senecas from withholding payments from local governments the next time they get into a tiff with the state? (That happened to Niagara Falls.)

6. Will Henrietta residents get a say? A majority of residents voted down the statewide casino expansion referendum in November.

7. Will there be addiction services funded for problem gamblers? Casino supporters say people are already gambling, so a casino is a natural thing to open. But the fact is, we don’t have a full-fledged casino in Rochester. You have to drive at least an hour to get to one. That’s a huge deterrent. What was once a destination is now in your backyard. Yes, people should take responsibility for their own gambling problems, but you and I will pay for their problems when they end up broke or worse.

8. What will the casino jobs pay? How do we know the the casino jobs would not have happened anyway? People only have so much money to spend. If you’re just shifting existing business to the casino, you’re shifting jobs. If you’re stifling potential new businesses from opening, then the casino jobs would have been created anyway.

9. Where are the gamblers going to come from? In order for the Henrietta casino to be a true job creator, it would need to draw in substantial numbers of people from outside the area. Buffalonians have Seneca Niagara. Syracusans have Turning Stone.  I’d love to see a market study. I bet it shows a majority of gamblers will come from Monroe, Ontario and Livingston counties.  Rochester casino is meant to capture the Rochester dollar. If this casino is a true tourist spot, it would not be located in the land of WalMart. I don’t know many out-of-towners who want to plan a day trip to Henrietta. You think they’ll take a break from the slots and drive 20 minutes to the George Eastman House and then to catch a show at the Auditorium? Riiiiiiggght. The only “tourists” will be people needing to stretch their legs during a trip down the Thruway heading someplace else.

10. Will neighboring businesses be helped by a casino? If we’re going to ask whether they’ll be hurt, we should ask if they’ll be helped. Take us to Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo and introduce us to all the businesses that benefited. Show us all the development. Show us the fruits of a casino.

This is all far from a done deal. A casino can’t open without New York renegotiating the Seneca compact. The agreement allows the tribe to be the sole casino operator west of Route 14, but it only allows three casinos. The Senecas already have three casinos. The governor said negotiations haven’t even started.

Despite the long road ahead, there does seem to be some inevitability to casinos opening up everywhere. People like to gamble. Cash-strapped states and town see dollar signs. The unemployed see jobs. But let’s make sure we see everything else, too.

****

I will be on Connections with Evan Dawson on WXXI Tuesday from 1 to 2 p.m. to discuss casinos.

 

Follow-Up:

 

Here is a story on emails and documents I obtained from the city through FOIL on the hiring of the mayor’s uncle as her bodyguard. There’s no smoking gun, but the emails show the city bent over backward to make sure he got this job, even when presented with alternatives and drawbacks.

rouletteNew Yorkers will vote on a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would allow non-Indian casinos Upstate. I’m very skeptical of the promises made by the state that these casinos are excellent economic development tools.

Here are some links for you to consider:

I interviewed casino opponent David Blankenhorn of the Institute of the American Family. He said, “”The people that go to the casinos most often, put their money in slot machines, who are they? They’re retirees. They’re lower-wage workers. They’re minorities. They’re people who go and get fleeced by these slot machines. What we’re saying is, that’s the way we want to raise money for New York State? That’s an ethical way to bring money into the state?”

(His group, @amervalues, is having a Twitter chat at 8:30 p.m. Sunday night. #casinoland.)

– The Syracuse Post-Standard editorial board said, “If the casino amendment passes, New York City residents will continue to travel out-of-state to gamble…The bulk of the profit at upstate casinos will come from upstate bettors, sucking millions out of local economies. And it won’t be long before the money the state skims from the casinos in taxes or fees will flow into the general fund, where it will vanish.”

The New York Times editorial board said, “Other communities have reported a loss in local business as gamblers are swept into the casino and stay there to spend their money.”

– The Albany Times Union editorial board said, “There is nothing to say casino developers will be interested in building anything more than some small regional casinos upstate — slot palaces that do little more than lure in all the local residents they can, and drain them of disposal income that they might otherwise spend on the restaurants, entertainment, arts, shops and charities that make up a thriving community.”

A Daily News columnist wrote, “But casinos are not the licenses to print money that they used to be — and there are signs that the gambling industry is nearing a saturation point in the Northeast.”

– The Democrat and Chronicle editorial board urged a yes vote on the referendum, but cited no evidence that the casinos will deliver on the governor’s promise of new riches for struggling communities.

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Finger Lakes Racetrack has had 20 horse deaths this year, prompting a look from the state.

– Some Buffalo area school districts are withholding student data from the state, fearful of a massive database that could be abused.

– 137,000 underinsured Western New Yorkers have to get new health insurance plans. But the insurance policies being dumped were pretty terrible.

– Some Syracuse apartments will be built with recycled shipping containers.

– Santa will be at Eastview Mall next week. Already.

rouletteA source called me last night and said, “Don’t believe anything you read about the Henrietta casino.”

This is far from a done deal. Flaum (who’s donated $99,000 to Cuomo) has been hired by the Senecas to find a casino site in Henrietta. The Senecas have exclusive rights to a casino in Rochester. Flaum and the Senecas refused to take questions after sending out a super-vague press release.

Here’s what I would ask: Mr. Flaum, do you have a contract with the Senecas that says you’re the exclusive developer of the Rochester area casino?

If he doesn’t, the door is wide open for others to squeak in. My guess is Scott Congel was livid at the Flaum/Seneca/Henrietta announcement. It’s no secret he wants a casino at Medley Centre.

(Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes have also got to be pretty upset with the prospect of a Rochester casino. There’s no question they would lose business.)

There are other reasons to be suspicious of this announcement:

– Henrietta Town Supervisor Mike Yudelson had no clue this was coming.

– Former Henrietta Supervisor Jim Breese doesn’t think there’s any town support for a casino.

– No specific location was identified.

– Asssemblyman Joe Morelle, who is part of the state legislature that must sign off on a new casino, would prefer it locate in the city.

– Mayor Tom Richards is no fan of casinos.

– The state compact with the Senecas doesn’t allow a Rochester casino.

– The federal government would have to sign off.

Finally, did anyone feel any excitement after yesterday’s announcement? Very few people seemed to be jumping up and down with joy at the prospect of a casino in…Henrietta.

This trial balloon may have already started to deflate.

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Costco has applied for tax breaks for its Rochester store. It would only pay 10 percent of its property tax bill the first year.

– It is supremely difficult to attend a Buffalo school board meetingand understand what’s going on.

– Monroe County may be better off selling Monroe Community Hospital.

– The Supreme Court will hear the Greece town board prayer case in November.

– Hyperlocal news websites can work. Howard Owens and The Batavian were featured in USA Today.

– Wegmans doesn’t want to pay Washington D.C.’s “living wage.”

– What the UK did to The Guardian should scare all of us.

Obama’s million-dollar bus.

rouletteThis should be a huge warning to New York state officials, who want to expand gambling. Casinos in Niagara Falls, Canada have suffered a dramatic revenue drop. The Buffalo News reports:

Profits from Canadian gambling facilities close to the U.S. border have dropped from $800 million to $100 million over the last decade.

And at resort casinos like the Fallsview and Casino Niagara in the Falls – built in the last 20 years – profits have dropped by more than $600 million alone.

The stunning decline is blamed on competition from the Seneca Niagara casino on the U.S. side, the requirement to have a passport or enhanced license to cross the border, and the weakening of the U.S. dollar.

There’s such a thing as having too many casinos. New York’s Indian casinos took in less money in 2011. A New Jersey casino just went bankrupt. New York should be very worried the market is already saturated.

Urban v. Rural

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe has an interesting article about whether casinos should be located in cities or rural areas:

“The real secret [to casino profitability] is to get people to stay in the seat longer, and when they win to have them pump the money back through,” (casino consultant Gary Green) said. “In the rural environment, I’m more likely to say, ‘Well I drove all the way out here and I did really well on this machine so I think I’ll stay a little bit longer.’ ”

But Jacob Miklojcik, a casino expert and president of Michigan Consultants, favors city casinos. “I prefer urban only because of job creation,” he said. “That is where the [unemployed] are. What a casino can do . . . is provide a lot of jobs for people without college educations. In a city or urban areas, if developers can make a promise to provide the jobs locally, that’s what matters.”

Miklojcik said the push for “destination resorts” in an attempt to draw large numbers of out-of-state tourists “is way, way overdone.

(snip)

A problem with the urban casino, said Las Vegas casino consultant Andrew Klebanow, is “we just haven’t seen it done right yet.” With few exceptions, most are designed as “islands” that happen to be within the city limits, but are not connected to the neighborhoods around them: Customers arrive, park in a garage, walk inside, and don’t step out until it’s time to drive home.

This article is interesting when you look at the governor’s desire for destination casinos Upstate. Close to home, the rural Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and Batavia Downs desperately want to become full-fledged casinos. There’s no public push to put a casino in downtown Rochester, but the Senecas are reportedly negotiating for rights for one.

The urban v. rural debate is also interesting because it shows a rural casino isn’t about economic development. It’s about maximizing cash for the state.

Links of the Day:

– A Brooklyn child was attacked with acid 40 years ago. He has led a remarkable life.

– Their wives are first cousins. But Carl Paladino and Brian Higgins had an incredibly bitter falling out.

– There’s a poker club in the Strong Memorial Hospital heart transplant wing.

– It’s a tough market for new lawyers, especially in Buffalo, which has a law school.

– Thomas Cole’s Genesee Valley paintings are masterpieces.

Revel

Revel Casino and Resort

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to expand casinos at a time they’re going belly up.

In New Jersey, a $2.6 billion casino and resort that got millions of tax incentives is bankrupt. The state is legalizing Internet gambling and wants to legalize sports betting. The New York Times reports:

Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill on Tuesday authorizing Internet gambling, which would allow people to play casino games from their mobile phones or laptops. He is also in court fighting a federal ban on sports betting, having signed a law last year that would legalize it.

At the same time, hotels in Atlantic City are experimenting with in-room gambling, as accessible and private as a minibar or on-demand movies. And lawmakers on the opposite side of the state envision pop-up casinos — one legislator likened them to county fairs — at concerts or sporting events.

Meanwhile, New York’s Indian casinos saw a drop in revenue in 2011. They are faced with competition from casinos in neighboring states and racetracks. Revenue at the tracks grew.

Do we want to go down the road taken by New Jersey? Or should we be focusing our efforts on innovation. We won’t attract economic development by installing more slot machines. We will, however, in the science lab.

Links of the Day:

– Cuomo wants to curtail sales tax incentives awarded to development projects that shift jobs around the same community. COMIDA isn’t happy.

– Mental health officials say the state’s new gun law will cost millions.

– Bath salts use appears to be on the decline. I don’t think that’s because of the ban. (Bans don’t work on other drugs.) I think it’s because users aren’t getting much enjoyment out of it.

– The Eastman House doesn’t like the proposed changes to a University Ave. apartment complex design.

rouletteThe state and the Seneca Nation are wheeling and dealing about the future of downtown Rochester behind closed doors.

It would be nice if Rochester had a say in all this.

Here’s what’s going on. The Buffalo News reported on secret negotiations between the state and the Senecas over a long-running dispute. The Senecas are mad the state allowed video slot machines at racetracks in Batavia and Farmington, so they’re withholding payments to municipalities where their casinos are located and the state. The payments total $572 million.

The Buffalo News found out:

Before the Seneca Nation of Indians pays even part of the $572 million it owes the state and local governments in casino revenue-sharing money, it wants the Cuomo administration to make several concessions, including giving it casino development rights in downtown Rochester.

(snip)

The settlement plan that the Senecas proposed includes rights to develop a casino in downtown Rochester. Former Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter first floated the idea of a Rochester gambling hall in 2011.

Since the federal government backed away from allowing Indian tribes to build off-reservation casinos, it is believed the Senecas want Cuomo to add Rochester to the list of seven possible sites where the state might permit a new casino. The Senecas could then seek to develop a Rochester facility, possibly with a non-Indian partner.

Mayor Tom Richards doesn’t want a casino downtown. If the state allows this, the city loses control. Former Mayor Bill Johnson often said he didn’t want a “sovereign nation” downtown.

Casinos can have a major impact – often negative – on cities and residents. We ought to be in the loop before the state trades our future for cash.

Links of the Day:

– Batavia Downs is undergoing a $25 million expansion. Slots, slots, slots.

– A report alleges Buffalo and Rochester Border Patrol agents get cash and other incentives for arresting immigrants.

– Applying for a pistol permit in Onondaga County? Come back in 2014.

– Syracuse has a big hot dog drama. Investors, including Jim Boeheim and the Oneidas, are suing Hoffman’s over alleged misuse.

– The state’s top judge wants cameras in court. He also wants to overhaul the bail system, which he says is unfair to poor people and could let dangerous criminal go free.

Congratulations to the Wilson High boys swim team. So many city secondary schools have gorgeous pools. Put them to use and teach kids a great life skill and activity.

– Children Awaiting Parents is having a fundraiser and photo contest. Please consider entering to support this great organization! It is called “What Family Means to Me.”

 

New York State Lottery

New York State Lottery

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2012-13 budget proposal today. It contained a proposal that will set gambling addiction counselors on edge.

Cuomo wants to expand Quick Draw, making it available anywhere that sells lottery tickets. The proposal would allow very small stores to sell Quick Draw. Cuomo hopes the measure brings in an extra $24 million. Last year, it brought in $67 million.

Quick Draw is known as “video crack.” There are drawings every few minutes nearly 24 hours a day.

When the state introduced Quick Draw in 1995, Donald Trump sued, considering the keno-style games competition for his casinos. He told the New York Times it was the “most highly-addictive form of gambling:”

Although his casinos are only a car drive away in Atlantic City, Mr. Trump said the the game poses little competition. What concerns him, he said, is the game’s effect on the residents of New York, and ultimately, on the state.

“People won’t be paying rent,” Mr. Trump said. “They won’t be buying cars, food or clothing. The big problem will be that your welfare rolls will go up. There may be some overflow with my casinos, but the big loser will be the state.”

If you want to see the impact of Quick Draw, visit World Wide News sometime. Assuming the store still has the games, you’ll see a large table where people sit and play, sometimes for extended periods of time.

I asked a friend who has worked in his family’s corner stores in Rochester the potential impact of a Quick Draw expansion. Would mini-casinos pop up in residential neighborhoods with large concentrations of bodegas?

“You have (store owners) who won’t do the Quick Draw specifically for that reason. They want people in and out. They don’t want people hanging around. It’s not enticing enough at 6 percent profit,” my friend said.

But there will be some small stores that could jump right in. Those stores might not have a problem with people hanging around all day playing lottery. With the city worried about loitering and crime around corner stores, could Quick Draw make things worse?

A bigger question surrounding Quick Draw is whether the government should be supplying this game and reaping the profits.

Links of the Day:

– Buffalo’s gun violence is on par with Panama’s.

– An Erie County teacher says state mandates are making her less effective.

– Jill Kelley, the “socialite” linked to the Petraeus affair, tells her side of the story. It’s an important read, because it makes the media look real bad.

– The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest headliners have been announced. But all we really want to know is if Trombone Shorty will be back.

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.

Seneca NiagaraThe Seneca Niagara Casino opened exactly 10 years ago. What was supposed to the “golden goose” for Niagara Falls has laid rotten eggs.

One problem is the state allowed racetracks to get video slot machines, possibly in violation of the Senecas’ exlcusivity clause. The Senecas are now withholding payments to the state and city, meaning Niagara Falls has lost out on $60 million so far.

But let’s just say the city got its $60 million. Would the area around the casino no longer be blighted? Would there be more restaurants and hotels? Would there be the kind of technology companies moving into town that create high-paying jobs? I suspect not. The city is in such bad shape, it has to pay people to move there.

The Buffalo News reports:

“I don’t see how I’m benefiting from any of this,” said Joey Sedore, who lives a block from the towering Seneca hotel.

Sedore, 35, has lived downtown all his life, and he still doesn’t feel safe walking his kids down the streets around the casino.

“It really hasn’t transformed anything except that property right there,” he added, pointing to the casino.

(snip)

It’s hard to find out what many of the restaurant owners around the casino now think – 10 years later, many have gone out of business.

(snip)

“We can [only] do so much,” said Seneca President Barry E. Snyder Sr.

“Our effect on Niagara Falls has been medium,” he added. “There was this expectation that we would be the golden goose, we would create all this stuff flourishing in the city, and that hasn’t happened.”

The Senecas’ compact with the state is up in 2016. Meanwhile, the governor would like to legalize full-fledged non-Indian casinos, allowing up to seven of them across the state.

Debt-ridden cities across the country are authorizing casinos, but there’s no such thing as easy money. Study after study shows casinos are crappy economic development tools. The state should look at Niagara Falls’ experience very closely before getting into bed with gambling.

Links of the Day:

– The sale of the Spengler home may have sent William Spengler over the edge.

– Two hundred volunteer firefighters from Erie County attended calling hours for their fallen comrades.

– Before New York lawmakers legalize medical marijuana, they will have to get the governor on board.

– The Buffalo Bills appear set to dismiss Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix this week.

– Lurid details of the Buffalo Troopergate party that led to an arrests and multiple firings are contained in court papers.

– Check out this Victorian house for sale in Weedsport, along with the photo gallery.

– More than two thousand bikers ruined a family’s cruise with their belly flop contests…and hair.

Links of the Day:

– Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sudden support of an expansion of casino gambling took some by surprise. Now there are questions about whether he was influenced by hefty contributions to the Committee to Save New York, a Cuomo advocacy group. The group does not have to reveal its donors, as it’s a 501(c)(4), an organization that’s supposed to have a social welfare, not political purpose. The New York Times reported this group received $2.4 million in contributions from gambling interests.

The governor adamantly denies he was influenced by the group or its money. That’s the thing about American politics – proving a quid pro quo is incredibly difficult. Was it a coincidence that State Senator Mike Nozzolio championed a soccer stadium while he was getting big donations from the soccer team? Was it a coincidence big GOP donors were hired as contractors for the Renaissance Square project? Was there a reason backers of big projects continually hired a former staff member of Assemblyman David Gantt as a lobbyist, a situation that came to be known as the “Gantt tax?”

We’ll never know.

And we may never know about Cuomo and the gambling interests. Two editorials call for transparency. The New York Times writes:

New Yorkers can and should have a serious debate about expanded gambling — its potential economic value to the state and its potential social costs. But there should be no debate about New Yorkers’ need to know who is contributing millions to promote what political issues.

 The New York Post editorialized:

None of this is inherently corrupt.

But the big bucks being spent — and the infinitely bigger bucks at stake — underscore the dangers of potential corruption implicit in legalized gambling…

Moreover, the infusion of gambling dollars to CSNY — and its uncomfortably close proximity to Cuomo’s newfound enthusiasm for expanded gambling — can only undermine public confidence in the governor himself. Fairly or otherwise.

– That didn’t take long. The former Chief of Staff under Jean-Claude Brizard is now head of the North Syracuse district, where teachers want her fired. Teachers agreed to a pay freeze and then Kim Dyce-Faucette turned around and offered administrators a raise.

– In Syracuse, they call it the “Destiny deadline dance.” Robert Congel keeps running up against deadlines to adhere to his PILOT agreement at the Carousel Mall, now known as Destiny USA. Irondequoit is having much the same experience with Congel’s son, Scott.

– This is a long read, but worth it if you’re interested in the future of the newspaper industry. Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, wrote a piece about why paywalls are terrible. What he said is getting national attention in journalism circles.

– How cool is this? The flour used in all Dunkin’ Donuts comes from a 200-year-old Churchville mill.

Assemblyman David Can’t?

When is a casino a casino?

Governor Andrew Cuomo called out racinos – several of which the state allows to call themselves casinos – as not being the real thing.

Racinos, including the Finger Lakes Racetrack and Casino, are only allowed to have video slots. There are no table games like blackjack and poker. The racinos, which operate at racetracks, desperately want to become full casinos. Cuomo wants a constitutional amendment to allow seven non-Indian casinos. The racinos say they are perfect locations.

But Cuomo says, “Not so fast.” He is against giving racinos a leg up in the deal and said the racino arrangements have been a bad deal for taxpayers. He wants an independent commission to determine where the casinos will be located. He would cut out the legislature and he is opposed to local referendums on gambling.

The Batavia and Finger Lakes racinos within the Senecas’ exclusivity zone prompted the Senecas to withhold payments from the state. Cuomo believes the Senecas are violating their state contract and is open to putting a new non-Indian casino in their zone, which includes Rochester and Buffalo.

Cuomo acknowledges racinos are at a disadvantage if casinos are allowed to locate nearby. He said the following during a press conference with Albany reporters (first video in link, starts at 11:45):

You can’t put a casino next door, because who’s going to go to the racino if you can get the real thing at the casino? You’ll only know that a racino that is a racino that is called a casino is really a racino when it is located and standing next to an actual casino. You’ll see the difference in the C and the R…and read that quote back to me before you use it.

Got that?

Meanwhile, the New York Times revealed a group with close ties to Cuomo got millions of dollars from gambling interests.

The earliest a constitutional amendment to expand gambling can go before voters is 2013.

Links of the Day:

– There’s no casino planned for downtown Rochester, but that doesn’t stop people from fantasizing about one. The dream could be a reality if Governor Andrew Cuomo gets his way and legalizes non-Indian casinos.

Toronto is in the midst of a downtown casino debate. An op-ed in the Toronto Star thoroughly pans the idea:

When all the social, moral and monetary costs are totted up, legalized gambling has proven itself to be financial and economic disaster.

Just look at Atlantic City, decades after its casino hotels were supposed to have changed its fortunes. Detroit’s three casinos have hardly moved its economic needle. For that matter, look at Niagara Falls, nearby.

(snip)

But the vast majority of casino patrons turn out to be locals, coming back night after night to spend their hard-earned money on the slots.

(snip)

Legalized gambling’s costs in crime, bankruptcies, lost productivity and diminished social capital exceed the supposed gains from added jobs and revenues by a ratio of three to one, according to Grinols’ research. A “tax on ignorance” is how Warren Buffett once put it.

Casinos produce little real wealth for their communities. They generate virtually no economic spinoff activity and in fact tend to poach business away from other local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

– Speaking of casinos, Chris Wilmot writes of his uncle’s one-time plan to put one in the Sibley Building. Wilmot also discusses Wilmorite’s impact on downtown Rochester and the shopping scene.

– While our health insurance premiums skyrocket, the CEO of Excellus pocketed a $3.3 million raise.

– The city is kicking Occupy Rochester out of Washington Square Park. 

[tweet https://twitter.com/roccitynews/status/175618610163744768]

 

– Cupcake ATMs, coming to a city near you.

20120107-120717.jpg

Links of the Day:

– State legislatures across the country, including in New York, are expected to take up bills offering online poker. A recent Justice Department ruling paved the way. Cash-hungry New York would most certainly jump at the chance to expand gaming. The governor is already trying to expand bricks and mortar casinos.

– There’s a call to get Monroe County to pick an aviation director with experience in the field. That would likely mean a national search. The Democrat and Chronicle talked to experts in running airports:

“I happen to think that anybody who doesn’t put an airport person into a position like that is making a major mistake,” said William Fife, a private consultant who formerly managed aviation and planning for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and led John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. “There are some places you can get away with putting the mayor’s brother in charge, but you need someone who knows what they’re doing at an airport.”

– The city of Syracuse looks underwhelming from any approach, but a Post-Standard columnist points out Carrier Circle is pretty bad:

…hundreds of thousands of visitors to Syracuse exit the New York State Thruway at Exit 35 each year and get deposited into a centrifugal force of blight.

– Speaking of Syracuse, Bob Lonsberry is preparing to broadcast a new daily talk show from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. He will continue to broadcast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Rochester. He tells Syracuse listeners he knows he’ll be the new kid making “rookie mistakes.”

– New York’s attorney general will meet with Time Warner Cable and MSG in a bid to end the impasse.

Links of the Day:

– Will 2012 be the year of casinos in New York State? Cuomo is pushing it. From the New York Daily News:

“Do I support casino gaming at a New York City location? . . . Yes,” the governor told the Daily News in a year-end chat.

<snip>

He stressed he is not “preselecting” New York City or any other area for possible casinos.

“I’m not excluding any locations at this time,” he said, adding that establishing a casino in a part of the city “certainly can” make sense because the operation would capitalize on the massive population.

“New York City is a real location,” he said. “Albany is a real location. Buffalo is a real location.”

Legalizing non-Indian casinos would require two consecutive votes by the legislature and a referendum. Not an easy task, especially in gridlock-prone New York. Any attempt to expand gaming will surely be met by litigation from anti-gambling groups and Native Americans.– I loved putting this story together about a little girl who stole the hearts of Rural Metro workers. All she wanted was an easy Bake Oven, but she got so much more.

– The Democrat and Chronicle has the story behind the awesome Rochester Made website.

– The Buffalo News had a tearjerker story of a woman whose search for her birth mother ended at a funeral.

– Who owns your Twitter account? A lawsuit prompts some debate and strikes fear in the hearts of journalists.