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Pataki Aide Charles Gargano Heads Up Casino Panel

By Mark Scott

Niagara Falls, NY – The make-up has been finalized of a special commission that will decide how to distribute the local share of revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Under the casino compact the state signed with the Seneca Nation of Indians, Niagara Falls is due a share of the revenue generated by the casino. The first year total is expected to be in the $8 million to $10 million range. Deciding how that money will be spent is the responsibility of a five-member commission.

Monday, Governor Pataki announced that Charles Gargano of Empire State Development will serve as chair. Also appointed to the commission were State Senator George Maziarz, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, Niagara Falls Mayor Irene Elia and City Council Chair Fran Iusi.

Two weeks ago, the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of earmarking a "large percentage" of casino revenue to promote economic development in Niagara County. But Niagara Falls officials say the cash-starved city needs that money, especially to cover the increased costs associated with the casino.

The commission's recommendations are due by February 15th.