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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.


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.


“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.

8 Responses to Seneca Niagara Casino, 10 Years Later

  1. Your column says study after study show casinos are \”crappy\” economic development tools…What valid studies that support that statement? Having done numerous economic impact studies for casinos I have yet to see one where the data would support that statement. The empirical facts do not support your contention.

  2. My thoughts…my wife and I visit Senaca Niagra once or twice a year. We enjoy it. It is always pretty crowded, which means many other people enjoy it also. Is a casino intended to be an economic boom? I see it for what it is….entertainment. It also employs many people. I don\’t see a problem with casinos. I wish downtown had accepted the offer to build a casino downtown. Another poor decision by then Mayor Johnson.

  3. People who go to casinos rarely leave them to venture out into the neighboring area. The area around casinos get no benefit. Atlantic City is still a downtrodden impoverish city. Casinos are money makers for 1%ers and have little trickle down effect. As for Spengler, as with Panza, these were two disabled people with high intelligence who were functioning barely because they had a home. The fear of not having a home pushed them over the edge. A kind of \”if you don\’t care about me, I don\’t care about you\”. I think both had real fears of homelessness. Neither were just suddenly going to get better. Somehow there needs to be better help for these people. Iin both cases their intelligence seemed to dismiss in their relatives minds what they couldnt do and there was no community help. Keeping people in jail forever isn\’t going to cut it.

  4. A casino will generate money, but don\’t expect it to bring up the area around it. It\’ll generate money for the city through taxes, but people will drive there,.stay inside, then leave. They won\’t gamble, walk down the street for dinner, then walk somewhere for a show. They\’ll go in and stay in. If the city is going to be interested in a casino it shouldn\’t be downtown, it\’ll just make a dead block. Put it at bee bee station. Good view for the hotel rooms, but overall seperated from nearby areas. It won\’t hurt the casino and the neighborhood won\’t be hurt by a big dead megablock.

  5. Pingback: Let’s Talk Casinos » The Rochesterian

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