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Possibility of a new casino in Niagara Falls

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Buffalo: Possibility of a new casino in Niagara Falls
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The City of Niagara Falls could be getting a second casino downtown; one that wouldn't be run by the Seneca Nation. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more the proposal for a private state-regulated casino.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — In a unanimous vote, the Niagara County Legislature passed a resolution this week in support of a private state-regulated gaming casino in Niagara Falls.

The state doesn't yet allow private casino gaming, but a compact with the Seneca Nation allows the nation to operate a casino in the Falls.

Niagara County Legislator Rick Updegrove said the casino would be controlled by the state, not the Senecas - a bonus for the state and Niagara County taxpayers.

"A private state-regulated casino would provide tax payments and revenue to local municipalities, including Niagara County," he said.

In March, the Senate and Assembly passed a Constitutional amendment which would allow up to seven casinos in New York State.

"We would rather have one casino that's financially robust and doing very well, rather than two casinos that are both struggling economically," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Mayor Dyster said right now, his focus is making sure the city gets its share of casino revenue owed by the Senecas.

"It's almost $60 million or more,” he said. “The funds that we were getting from the Seneca Casino were having a major impact in terms of infrastructure and economic development."

A compact with the Senecas is set to expire in 2016, which Dyster said prevents any opening of a casino right now. He said opening a private casino could cause more problems.

"The relationship between the Senecas and the State of New York, I think is at a very delicate point," said Dyster.

"It’s certainly not a disagreement with the county of Niagara, but given the current status of those payments, we think it makes sense to move forward with our support for a private state-regulated casino," said Updegrove.

There's no word yet on where a private casino would be built downtown, but before that decision can happen, a referendum would have to be passed to legalize a casino, and then New York voters would be able to vote on it as early as next November.

Calls to the Seneca Nation were not returned.

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