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Mayor Rallying for Downtown Casino

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Touting downtown Buffalo as a "regional entertainment destination," Mayor Anthony Masiello stood in Niagara Square Thursday asking the Seneca Nation of Indians to change their minds, and build a casino in the city.

The Mayor said there are plenty of reasons for the Senecas to create a second casino in Buffalo.

He said downtown has "critical mass" and an entertainment infrastructure to support a casino with 95 bars and restaurants.

Masiello was joined by other downtown business leaders, hotel and restaurant owners.

They are making an appeal as the Senecas get closer to deciding on a final piece of land in Cheektowaga.

The Mayor said he wants the Senecas to reconsider. But is it a little too late?

"I don't believe it's too late. From my understanding, there is sentiment on the part of the Senecas to build a casino in Cheektowaga," said Masiello.

"There are others who believe Buffalo is the best location. But here again, the intent of the casino compact is to have a location in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. This Mayor supported that compact."

Masiello said downtown is ideal with access to major highways and 20,000 parking spaces.

Downtown Hyatt Hotel owner, and business developer Paul Snyder said casinos have huge impacts on communities.

His company is involved in developing another new casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Snyder said a Cheektowaga casino could cause downtown Buffalo businesses to re-locate.

"For people in the restaurant, bar, and hotel, the businesses that I'm in, that in order to take advantage of the casino customer, they are going to have to relocate to Cheektowaga," said Snyder. "The people that do that are not going to be new people going into business, they are going to be people that own businesses here in Buffalo."

Snyder said Casino Niagara is the biggest entertainment draw, attracting four to five million people a year.

The Mayor said if there is going to be a casino in Erie County, "it has to be in Buffalo."