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Ortt proposal would flip state, local shares of Falls casino revenue

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A Niagara County-based state Senator would like to change the plan by which New York State and local entities including the City of Niagara Falls split revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Under the current agreement, the Seneca Nation keeps 75 percent of overall revenue. New York State and local entities divide the remaining 25 percent, with Albany keeping 75 percent of that share. Senator Robert Ortt's proposal would amend the numbers, giving the local entities the 75 percent of that portion split among non-Seneca interests. The Senecas' share would remain the same.

Ortt's proposal would also call for provisions that ensure localities, including the City of Niagara Falls, better invest the additional millions that would be added to their coffers. Ortt, a North Tonawanda Republican, acknowledged that many question what the Falls has to show for the more than $180 million that it has already received in casino revenues.

"The city has received a bulk of that portion, but we really haven't seen the kind of job creation and the kind of economic development, particularly around the casino, that I think a lot of people were expecting and hoping to see," Ortt said. 

One advantage of having more casino revenues, he argues, is that unlike the Buffalo Billion which has spurned significant economic development in nearby Buffalo, an amended casino revenue sharing plan would give Niagara Falls a much-needed boost through private dollars.

He plans to introduce his proposal as part of the state's upcoming budget meetings.

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