The governor wants to expand casino gaming in the state, and Niagara Falls is a part of those plans. As YNN's Antoinette DelBel reports, city leaders are weighing in on what it could mean for downtown.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Niagara Falls is included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to allow non-Indian casino gaming in the state, according to New York State Senator George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Ceretto, and it's something Ceretto supports.
"If it's possible and if we don't have exclusivity with the Senecas and we're not breaking the compact, I believe another casino in Niagara Falls would generate more economic dollars to the city," said Ceretto.
The Senecas currently owe the City $60 million. The Nation has been withholding payments since 2009, when the Senecas argued the state violated an exclusivity pact by allowing local racinos.
The State and the Senecas are currently in arbitration. But if the dispute is not resolved, or the compact, which is set to expire in 2016, is not renewed, another downtown casino could be an option.
"Whatever it's going to take to get this money to the city, I think we have to look at every option,” said Maziarz. “I think the governor is sending the message out there that he's exploring every option, including an additional casino."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster agreed.
"We have to find some other way of keeping gaming here in Niagara Falls absent of renewal or continuation of the gaming compact with the Senecas," said Dyster.
Although Dyster said negotiating a settlement is the best way to resolve the dispute, he said in the long run, a second casino could thrive in the city.
"If the tourism industry continues to develop, our visitor-ship goes up, we get other attractions to support additional gaming, then we can support additional gaming facilities here," he said.
Ceretto said close competition with the current Indian-owned casino downtown could bring more people to the area.
An arbitration decision is expected later this year, but Ceretto said he doesn't think the state should wait to move plans along.
"If he sees fit to move this thing forward, I believe he has our best interest," said Ceretto.
A spokesperson for the Seneca Nation had no comment, citing a gag order related to arbitration.