Niagara Falls, NY - Governor Cuomo is now directly laying it on the line when it comes to talk of the state bringing in another casino for Niagara Falls. And two leaders in the Cataract City say the Governor is serious about dealing out some casino competition for the Senecas.
Governor Cuomo first floated this idea of a non - Indian casino for the Cataract City back in February. Now he is discussing it with State Senator George Maziarz and Mayor Paul Dyster as a way to put pressure on the Senecas in their casino revenue dispute with the state.
Negotiators from Albany and the Seneca Nation are still involved in arbitration over whether the Senecas should pay up to $500 million dollars in casino funding which filters down to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca as host cities. The Senecas have held on to the money since 2009 citing a violation of the state compact when gaming machines were installed in local racetracks.
So just as the Governor has brought up the idea of seven additional private casinos to garner more revenue for the state, he is now being specific about one location according to Maziarz. "In the past he's always talked about casinos in upstate New York, not site specific. He said directly to me that he would site an additional one in the city of Niagara Falls. Obviously the best thing for everyone would be a negotiated settlement. But short of that, to locate another casino with a lot more revenue going to the city of Niagara Falls, that's something I think has to be an option on the table."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster says he is more optimistic about some settlement. "It seemed to me as though the Governor was still optimistic about the prospects of a negotiated settlement. And one of the reasons why he's optimistic about that is because he feels he's dealing from a position of strength and has the leverage he needs."
Both men say they feel Cuomo is not bluffing and fully intends to seek another Falls casino if there is no deal with the Senecas. There would have to be another state legislature vote before a November referendum to open up state sanctioned casinos. Maziarz says expect to hear a lot about this in June before lawmakers wrap up their current session in Albany.
A spokeswoman for the Senecas says they have no comment citing a judge's gag order in the arbitration. But obviously Governor Cuomo is talking about his suggestion.