Buffalo Creek Casino – Open for Business

10 Jul

The Senecas are being quite clever with respect to Judge Skretny’s Monday ruling that the Senecas could not legally operate Class III gaming on Michigan Avenue.

They’re going to keep it open, and keep building the new casino, until the matter has been “finally resolved”, which means that it’s been decided by the Supreme Court, or by the 2nd Circuit and the Supreme Court declines to hear the case.

Since the Senecas aren’t a party to the lawsuit that led to Skretny’s ruling, they aren’t immediately required to do anything about it. Either the Justice Department or some other federal law enforcement branch will order the Senecas to shut down, or else someone will go to court and seek an injunction. To do that, they’d have to prove that there is an imminent threat of irreversible harm for which money damages would be inadequate. I don’t think the casino meets those criteria. After all, if the final decision of the courts is that the casino is illegal and must shut down, then all the Senecas have to do is lock the doors; the “harm” is reversible.

Personally, I do not at all like the idea of sovereign Seneca exclaves being carved out of urban property so that Class III gaming might take place there in contravention of the New York State Constitution. I would much rather that State law be changed to permit legal gambling under specific circumstances and regulations, which would keep the property on the tax rolls. I would much rather that the people of Buffalo and Niagara Falls and Salamanca at least had a direct hand in approving or disapproving casino gaming in their cities via referendum. I would much rather that the deal with the Senecas had been made directly between the Nation and the municipalities, so that the money received by the host community could have been maximized beyond the current fraction of a fraction of slot revenues that Pataki negotiated.

But Skretny’s decision is that the exclave-carving was perfectly legal and remains in place. So, my opinion on that issue is worthless, pending appeal. Assuming that the exclave is maintained, and assuming that the Senecas go back to the drawing board pending appeal and are able to finagle a way to maintain the Buffalo casino (which I fully expect them to do), then I hope they build something glorious that will help transform the Cobblestone and Canal Side areas into fantastic tourism destinations.

I want that Casino to encourage – not discourage – pedestrian traffic to and from the building so that it’s less of a fortress and becomes part of the fabric of that area.

The Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls is an example of a casino project that is integrated into its surroundings, offering a park overlooking the Falls, shopping, improved pedestrian access, and parking that is ample yet unobtrusive.

6 Responses to “Buffalo Creek Casino – Open for Business”

  1. Derek J. Punaro July 10, 2008 at 9:36 am #

    I agree in that I think it’s time New York Staters vote again on whether or not gambling should be legal in this state. If yes, then let private casinos open up and generate real revenue for the state/county/city. If not, then the hypocrisy should cease and the horseracing, video slots, and lottery should all go away. The idea that New York State doesn’t allow gambling with the myriad of state-sponsored gambling options out there is ridiculous.

  2. Bill Altreuter July 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    It is a little more complicated than a straight up or down referendum– the state constitution needs to be amended, which an elaborate process. If we are going to have a constitutional convention, let’s have one on reforming the structure of state government, not something trivial like gambling.

  3. Frieda July 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    This ruling today out of Florida in re Indian Gaming .. (Federal Judge) Mickle’s decision rejected that argument and outlined the federal protections granted to Indian tribes against interference from the courts.

    “The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act provides clear and convincing evidence that Congress intended to preclude judicial review,” Mickle wrote.

    The federal government does have the right to prosecute and fine Seminole leaders if they operate illegal gambling on their reservations, according to Mickle, but a judge can’t make that finding or issue an injunction independently….

  4. Prodigal Son July 10, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    The more people discuss it, and the more I learn, the more bizzare Skretny’s opinion seems to be.

    The backdoor process, that carved out Indian land in downtown Buffalo, using a claims settlement from leases in another part of WNY, was just fine.

    But the federal bureaucratic process that allowed gambling on the site was arbitrary and capricious. Abitrary I buy. Capricious seems a hard standard from a giant faceless bureaucracy.

    On top of that, in the 127 page decision, he issued no stop order or injunction on the actual gambling.

    Does this seem like an odd mix of opinions? Is it just me?

    Whatever – in the end, the casino will be built, gaming with continue, and either a new law or new ruling will allow it. See you at the Blackjack table in 2010!

  5. dtwarren July 12, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    First, it should be understood that the State Constitution and the Penal Law prohibits commercialized gambling, not all gambling.

    Second, I agree with Derek and Bill that the voters of this state should be given an opportunity to vote up or down on the question of amending the State Constitution to permit commercialized gambling. IMHO, the Senecas and State leaders would not support such an effort, until forced to by the courts foreclosing all other back doors, because the Senecas would lose their exclusive franchise in the area and according to their agreement with the state the state only gets a percentage of the games that they have exclusivity in so the State would lose that revenue.

  6. Denizen July 12, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    I think casino gambling should be legalized statewide, therefore allowing Ontario-style operations to take place, not that raw deal Seneca crap which is more or less a cheap revenue gimmick for Albany’s coffers.

    One thing that bugs me the most: All the hysterics over Skretny’s decision; people treating this like it’s the end of Buffalo.

    Let’s not kid ourselves here. Buffalo is NOT a mass-market tourist destination. Any sort of gaming operation downtown is going to have primarily a local draw. All this is doing is reshuffling local money around, not doing anything to actually spur any sort of economic growth for the city. The fact that the Seneca’s can run an assortment of tax-free enterprises (restaurants, hotels, ect.) on this property makes the whole thing stink even more. It’s completely unfair to downtown businesses who have to play by the rules.

    And let’s not think there will be much actual spin-off development in the so-called “Cobblestone District.” If built, this complex with be a self-contained fortress that does its best to interact with the surround city fabric as little as possible. People will drive in, park, do everything they do within the walls of this fortress, and hightail it out to the nearest thruway ramp home.

    Man, some people in this city are desperate for any form of development possible.

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