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Senecas Announce Waterfront as Casino Site, Hoyt Hopes to Mitigate Impact

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Seneca Nation of Indians confirmed Tuesday afternoon that it will build its Buffalo casino on nine acres of property on Buffalo's waterfront. Seneca President Barry Snyder says they're still negotiating with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to purchase the old DL&W Terminal site.

Mayor Anthony Masiello says the casino will create 1,000 new jobs. "This is the absolute right thing for the city of Buffalo," Masiello said.

Meanwhile, State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt says he's prepared to do his best to mitigate any negatives associated with the Buffalo casino.

Hoyt says he does not believe a casino will be a tool for economic development. He put up a fight against the creation of a casino gaming compact with the Senecas a few years ago, but lost. However, Hoyt says now that there appears to be no way of stopping a casino from being built in Buffalo, he's on a mission to assist in mitigating negatives and capitalize on the positives.

Hoyt remains an opponent of casinos, but says the DL&W rail terminal near HSBC Arena downtown, owned by the NFTA, appears to be the best of all sites.

"In one sense, it is isolated from the central business district where it was originally proposed. This site would have less of an impact on surrounding businesses," Hoyt said.

Hoyt says leaders should also be insisting that the Senecas build a "stand-alone" casino that would not include other types of entertainment for consumers.

"If it is a stand-alone casino, people are probably going to throw their money into the slots, but hopefully they will remain downtown and spend their money at local restaurants, entertainment facilities, etc."

Hoyt says the Senecas must be prevented from buying up other land surrounding a Buffalo casino. He says that would take other properties off the city tax rolls and could create a big loss in revenues for Buffalo.

"Once the contract for this casino is signed, it will forever be sovereign land. Even if the casino closes, it will be forever Seneca land," Hoyt said. "I want to make sure they don't buy up property and we've got this country within a country that we have no control over as government officials."

Hoyt says those at City Hall, who are negotiating with the Senecas, need to focus on that issue. He would also like to see a reverse in the amount of casino revenues provided to the city and state. Hoyt say the host community should receive 75 percent and the state only receiving 25 percent, reversing the original compact agreement. And Hoyt says he doesn't believe Erie County should receive any casino revenues.