BATAVIA – Two local governments claim that another casino in the area “will saturate the regional gaming marketplace and cause financial distress” and are on record in vigorously opposing a possible Las Vegas-style casino in a Rochester suburb.
The Finger Lakes area site is about 30 miles from Batavia Downs Gaming, a public benefit corporation, and would affect Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., its 460 employees and $5 million in annual salaries, according to the City Council. It is also close to Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack, a thoroughbred race track and racino.
The City Council on Monday voted against adding a casino in Western New York, where there are already three Seneca Nation casinos and racinos in Batavia, Hamburg and Canandaigua.
The Genesee County Legislature, at its Wednesday meeting, also adopted a resolution opposing the Seneca bid through the Willmorite Corp., which operates malls in the Rochester area, and has a likely site in Henrietta.
The resolution says the new casino would affect more than $18 million in annual economic output for the region and $3 million spent on goods, services and construction. There is also $3.5 million that has gone to the host communities, Batavia and Genesee County.
“An additional casino would have a devastating effect on hundreds of residents and small business owners that rely on Batavia Downs Gaming for their livelihood,” according to the resolutions.
The Council noted that the Downs has contributed $49.5 million to state education, having never missed a payment of its state share.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is assured of no competition because of a pact with the state that will not allow new casinos west of Route 14. So the four casinos that will soon be chosen for gambling licenses in the state must be elsewhere.
Casinos in the Las Vegas mode can offer popular games like poker, blackjack and other table games that are not allowed in racinos.
OTB purchased the track several years ago, restored harness racing and since 2005 has operated video lottery terminals, similar to slot machines. Last fall it opened a multimillion dollar expansion that added slots and restaurants. The corporation is owned by 15 Western and Central New York counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. It operates 30 betting parlors, including six in Monroe County, one of which is in Henrietta.