Gov. Cuomo says internat’l companies would fight to build new Falls casino

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB)- Governor Andrew Cuomo is doubling down on his threat against the Seneca Nation. If casino revenue payments don’t resume, he said the state will consider having another casino built in Niagara Falls.

“If they do not pay, the payments they’re supposed to make under the compact, the compact is gone,” said Gov. Cuomo. “If you don’t pay, you’re not going to get an exclusive franchise to run a casino.”

Seneca Nation President Todd Gates held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to respond.

“That’s a clear violation of the compact,” said Gates.

He told News 4 they’ve paid the state more than $100 million a year since 2002, in exchange for the exclusive right to operate casinos. According to Gates, the agreement only required payments until 2016 but the right to operate without competition lasts until 2023.

“The compact is enforceable under federal law,” said Gates. “Those compacts are being approved by the Interior Department so that’s where we would go to get it settled.”

As Gov. Cuomo threatens a second Niagara Falls casino, he’s defending the success of three other commercial casinos built across the state over the past few years. Voters decided in 2013 to allow for the casinos, resulting in a competitive bidding process. Now there are reports the casinos are not doing as well as projected.

“The variance with projections doesn’t bother me that much,” said Gov. Cuomo. “They have all been wildly successful in creating jobs and creating beautiful complexes.”

He said companies will fight to do the same in Niagara Falls, if the state can’t come to a resolution with the Seneca Nation.

“I have no doubt that we would get companies from around the world to bid on a casino right, in Buffalo Niagara Falls area.”

News 4 asked Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster on Monday if the city can support a second casino.

“I’m not an expert in gaming but I know the tourism economy here in Niagara Falls is growing,” said Mayor Dyster. “Whether we could support two casinos, or not, with a growing tourism economy is one for the experts”

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