Is another casino for Niagara Falls a good idea?

Feb 5, 2013

Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly putting together a proposal that would see a second, non-Indian operate casino open in downtown Niagara Falls. The question is whether the market could sustain another casino.

The state remains locked in an already lengthy contract dispute with the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The Senecas have withheld more than $500 million in gambling revenue payments, saying the state breached a 2002 agreement by allowing casino-style gambling at racetracks in Hamburg and Batavia.

Niagara Falls is owed upward of $60 million from the Seneca Niagara Casino Hotel operation, and mayor Paul Dyster says he favors any solution that will result in economic development for the city.

“I still think that the best outcome for all of this would be for cooler heads to prevail, for the state and the Senecas to work out their issues and for everyone to go forward planning the future not just of gaming but of economic development generally in Western New York, with everyone pushing in the same direction,” said Dyster.

Dyster says if the Senecas won’t pay, the state and the city will have to look at different options.

But the success of a second casino would rely heavily on an upswing in tourism driven by the development of the city’s downtown through the Buffalo Billion fund.

The state Gaming Commission would have to determine that the Seneca Nation broke the state’s 2002 compact before Cuomo’s plan for a non-Indian run casino could go ahead.

Reports say the Cuomo initiative could be a way of jump-starting talks between the tribe and the state, or it could be an attempt to break the Seneca’s gambling monopoly in the region.

A representative of the Seneca Nation of Indians declined to comment when contacted about this story.


For more from the Innovation Trail, visit their website. Reporting by the Innovation Trail is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.