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Judge Wants Gaming Commission to Decide on Shutting Down Buffalo Casino

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – U.S. District Court Judge Williams Skretny is not ordering the shut down of the Buffalo casino.

But instead, the Judge is calling on the National Indian Gaming Commission to decide if the city casino should close.

In his ruling, Skretny states that it is their "congressionally-mandated obligations" to decide on closing the casino. The judge released his much anticipated decision Tuesday morning.

In a July opinion, Judge Skretny ruled that gambling is illegal at the Seneca's temporary Buffalo Creek casino. That ruling still stands by the judge. But the Seneca's continue gambling at the site.

Joel Rose is with Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County. WBFO News reached Rose who is traveling in Syracuse. He had just learned of the ruling.

"As far as granting our motion, evidently the judge has granted our motion, but has stopped short of laying out exactly how the NIGC should go about enforcing it," said Rose.

But the judge has denied a motion from casino supporters to remand the case back to the NIGC allowing them to decide if gambling in Buffalo is illegal. Rose says he is pleased with that order.

"The defendants motion is denied to remand the case back to the NIGC. That certainly is as it should be. The NIGC has certainly had several opportunities to consider this matter and has basically ignored the law both times," said Rose.

Meanwhile, the Seneca's continue construction of a $333 million permanent casino on nine-acres of land in the City's Cobblestone District.

The Seneca Nation has issued a statement. It says the U-S Justice Department is expected to file an expedited appeal in the motion seeking closure of the casino and denying the government's motion to remand the case to the NIGC.

"This is a lengthy and involved process and we are a patient people who have lived on our native land for hundreds of years," said Seneca Nation President Maurice A. John Sr.

"We remain optimistic that we will prevail on appeal," said John.

The Seneca Nation says the casino will remain open and it will be business as usual. The Seneca's continue to note that they are not part of this lawsuit. The Seneca's say they have an automatic ten day stay. Now they are waiting to see how the Justice Department responds.