Buffalo Creek Casino is a drain on downtown

Opponents to casino gambling in downtown Buffalo gathered at the Pierce-Arrow Transportation Museum on Jan. 31 to hear an update on the third lawsuit brought to demonstrate that the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino violates federal law.

This is what I heard at the gathering: The City of Buffalo has received zero dollars from the casino since its fiscal year ending in 2010. The existing casino is an ugly metal shed that employs 66 people operating a business that pays no taxes and sucks dollars, mostly from the pockets of poor people, into 455 slot machines from which the city now gets zero return. One of the speakers observed that for middle-class people – those not prone to gambling addiction – playing the slots might be entertainment. But for the poor, playing the slots is a “financial strategy” akin to a “Hail Mary Pass” that is desperate, pathetic and almost certain to fail.

Maybe the Seneca Gaming Corp. will win the lawsuits and open a bigger, better casino at Buffalo Creek. However, the “permanent” casino now planned is a far cry from the fabulous “destination” venue originally sold to the Buffalo Common Council. Meanwhile, the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls is paying zero dollars to that city and has brought ruin to downtown.

This is what I observed that Thursday night: The Pierce-Arrow Transportation Museum is a wonderful facility filled with beautiful vintage automobiles that make you downright proud to be from Buffalo, where these automobiles were built. The museum and projects like Canalside remind us that there is no silver bullet that is going to restore Buffalo’s past grandeur and economic vitality. But lots of little projects are leading us that way, if only we don’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot with projects like the Buffalo Creek Casino.

David Kernan