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New York Lawmaker From Rochester Says No Seneca Casino

Posted on: December 6, 2023, 10:14h. 

Last updated on: December 6, 2023, 10:26h.

A state lawmaker in New York is of the impression that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) believes Rochester wants a casino.

New York Seneca casino Rochester
New York Assemblyman Harry Bronson is working to make sure a Seneca Nation casino doesn’t come to Rochester. Compact negotiations between the tribe and Gov. Kathy Hochul are ongoing. (Image: New York State Assembly)

When Hochul and the Seneca Nation made the surprising announcement in June that a new 20-year Class III gaming compact had been reached, there was quick backlash regarding a provision allowing the tribe to open a fourth casino resort in the Rochester area. Compacts are required for federally recognized tribes to operate slot machines, table games, and other Class III games on their sovereign lands.

The Rochester casino component led to the New York State Legislature refusing to approve the new terms. New York tribal gaming compacts suggested by the governor require the legislative backing of the state Assembly and Senate.

Hochul, who was recused from the summer negotiations with the Senecas because her husband at the time had worked for a direct competitor of the tribe’s casinos, has returned to the bargaining table after William Hochul departed Delaware North. Hochul and the Seneca Nation last week agreed to extend the current compact, which was set to expire December 9, until March 31, 2024, to give the parties additional time to come to new revenue-sharing conditions.

The tribe owns and operates Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino in Salamanca, and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo. The tribe is seeking a new compact in hopes of lowering the 25% tax the state imposes on its gross slot revenue.

No Rochester Casino

Among the local officials in Rochester who scolded the Hochul administration for agreeing to allow a casino in their town was state Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D-Monroe). The longtime state lawmaker said in July that he wasn’t privy to the compact negotiations, and wasn’t tipped that a casino in Rochester was being considered and subsequently included.

Bronson said the Rochester community “has been loud in opposition” to a casino in Monroe County. He stressed that if the Senecas want to come to Rochester, they need to first meet with local officials and residents.

“We want to make sure that our communities have an opportunity for input,” Bronson said in June.

Asked this week by NBC News 10 about the city possibly still being a focus of the ongoing compact talks, Bronson said the status is unclear. But he stressed that he isn’t alone in Albany in encouraging Hochul and the Senecas to stay away.

I think the Assembly majority conference is committed to making sure that we don’t introduce another casino that’s going to be harmful to our neighborhood, harmful to the economy, or harmful to the existing employees in the gaming industry in our area,” Bronson said.

The nearest gaming venue to Rochester is the Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, which is owned and managed by William Hochul’s former employer, Delaware North. The racino offers video lottery terminals, which are electronic games that perform lottery simulations to determine the outcome of the play. Everi Holdings operates the VLT centralized lottery system.

Rochester Quick Facts

Rochester falls within the Seneca Nation’s exclusivity zone for Las Vegas-style slots, dealer table games, and sports betting, as the city is west of State Route 14.

Located on Lake Ontario northeast of Buffalo, Rochester is home to 210K people, making it the third most populated city in the state behind New York City and Buffalo.

Monroe County, however, isn’t exactly a wealthy area. The median household income per the 2020 US Census was just $40K, with a per capita income of about $26,600.

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