Letter to BRO – Karen Karsten, Seneca Gaming Corporation Chairman:
Several articles recently appeared in local publications about the Seneca Nation’s casinos, and one article in the Buffalo News about the Hamburg Casino.
Frank Parlato, publisher of the Niagara Falls Reporter, went on a full frontal attack against the Seneca Niagara in what could only be characterized as a racist rant. Never mind that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 specifically addressed the need and ability of Native nations to build casinos for economic development to help tribes dig out from the crush of decades of abject poverty.
Dianne Bennett in Buffalo Rising said she is still pursuing a suit against the government to oppose the Seneca’s Buffalo Creek Casino because of the rule of law and economics (see post).
Bennett is full of hypocrisy and flat wrong. The Nation has in fact worked collaboratively to obtain input from local leaders and city officials so that the permanent Buffalo Creek facility will complement waterfront development plans. The new, scaled back plans have been so devised to ensure other area businesses such as hotels and restaurants benefit through collaboration by casino designers, steering away from the industry standard model which seeks to “capture” customers.
When asked about other gambling in the area–at the three racetracks within our exclusivity zone and the Governor’s pursuit of state legalization, Bennett never bothered to answer the question. She said her group would not extend their “mission” against gambling beyond downtown Buffalo. Selective elitist opposition to gambling appears to be her game. Not in my backyard, but it’s fine in Hamburg or Batavia?
There was an article in the News about the Hamburg Casino reaching record revenues. According to the report, the lingering recession and high gas prices apparently have “helped with the growth of the business.” Even if that casino draws locals and is illegal under the Nation’s compact with New York?
Finally, there was news about the Seneca Niagara job fair. A record number of Western New Yorkers- more than 500 attended the fair, seeking jobs. The Seneca casinos: Niagara Falls, Buffalo Creek and Allegany put roughly 3,600 people to work, continuously, with good salary and benefits–this, in a region that has experienced staggering job losses.
The permanent construction of the Buffalo Creek casino will employ more than 600 people in the construction industry and local trades. Is there another private entity in this region, one that has never received a state or local economic break or incentive, with such a productive record?
The Seneca Nation has invested $900 million in the last 10 years in constructing new casinos. We’ve kept people working, have indeed reached out to local and state officials, and in spite of all the rhetoric, hypocrisy and unrelenting wave of attacks, remain committed to further development. A scientific poll released in December demonstrated that most Western New Yorkers – 84 percent – appreciate and support the Seneca Nation’s economic development efforts. Job creation and making a positive economic impact in our homelands of Western New York remain our achievement and goal, despite the naysayers.