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Giambra and Common Council Argue for City Casino

By Eileen Buckley and Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Executive Joel Giambra says he's ready to support any legal action that may be taken to stop the Senecas from building a casino in Cheektowaga. Giambra says he has written to Governor Pataki voicing his opposition.

The Buffalo Common Council says it also wants answers from the Governor on just what the state's casino compact says about where a casino can be located. Council Majority Leader Marc Coppola wonders why Pataki is being so quiet on the issue.

Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong said city leaders made it impossible to build in Buffalo. But Lovejoy District Council Member Richard Fontana rejects such claims. He said the city offered a number of viable sites, including Memorial Auditorium, for a casino.

"We unrolled the red carpet for the Senecas," Fontana said.

Lawmakers are calling on the Senecas to meet with them on April 28th to discuss the situation.

Although State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt is not in favor of casinos, he says the fight over the Erie County location is "far from over." Hoyt says the intent of the original memorandum of understanding was to bring the casino to Buffalo.

"It specifies Buffalo three or four different times," Hoyt said. "It is clear that the intent, and it was drafted by the Governor, that the casino specifically be in Buffalo, but there is fine print."

Hoyt says that it is that "fine print" in the MOU that gave the Senecas an out to build outside the city. Still, he says the ultimate site location will be up to Pataki.