Buffalo, NY, official: Rescind Seneca casino deal

By Carolyn Thompson
Buffalo, New York (AP) October 2012

A city lawmaker is seeking support for a resolution to rescind a contract with the Seneca Indian Nation that allows it to operate a casino in Buffalo.

Councilman Michael LoCurto said that the western New York tribe has breached the 2006 agreement by scaling back its plans to build a heavily marketed $330 million casino-hotel complex. The $130 million casino planned now won’t employ as many people or attract as many tourists as promised, he said.

“It was sold as this big economic development engine. It was going to create a thousand jobs and bring people in from all over the Northeast,” LoCurto said before submitting a resolution to cut off water and sewer service to the site and begin the process of rescinding the contract.

The Senecas are operating a small temporary casino at the site while construction of a permanent facility is under way.

Casino opponents held a news conference before the City Council meeting supporting LoCurto’s proposal, but Common Council President Richard Fontana said that disputes should be negotiated and that the proposal to shut off utility service would have little chance of passing. The council is expected to discuss the resolution at a later meeting.

Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter, in a statement, defended the casino and the 500 jobs it will create.

“Why would this legislator suggest that the answer to not enough jobs on a project is to halt it altogether?” Porter asked.

He also noted the Buffalo Creek Casino sits on sovereign territory.

“What we do on that land and when is the choice of the Seneca Nation, its council and Seneca Gaming Corp.,” Porter said.

A lawsuit by an anti-gambling group pending in federal court argues that the 9.5-acre casino site, which was purchased by the Senecas, doesn’t qualify as sovereign territory. The suit seeks to shut the casino down.

The Senecas also operate casinos in Niagara Falls and Salamanca.