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Batavia Downs not terribly hurt by Cuomo's deal with Senecas, but just don't call it a casino

We're not supposed to call it Batavia Downs Casino anymore, but beyond that, officials are still sorting out what a new compact between New York and the Seneca Nation means for Western Regional OTB.

In exchange for resuming long-overdue payments, at a reduced rate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has granted the Senecas exclusive rights to casino operations in WNY.

Exactly what "exclusivity" means hasn't been entirely spelled out, said Michael Kane, president of the Western Regional OTB.

Dick Siebert said he's worried the governor has given away Rochester to the Senecas after promising that Batavia Downs would be the only gaming facility in the region.

Dropping "casino" from the name isn't too troubling, nor is the requirement to stop calling video terminal games "slots," and even the loss of electronic table games isn't crippling, but there needs to be some compensation to WROTB for the deal cut with the Senecas.

The Senecas had their taxes reduced, Siebert said, so should Batavia Downs.

"They got what they wanted and we’re just looking for a little relief ourselves since they took the table games away from us," he said.

WROTB is lobbying for a 15-percent reduction in the amount of money it sends to New York, Siebert said.

"We need concessions to be able to provide more for our local counties," Siebert said.

Batavia Downs is undergoing a $27-million renovation downstairs and space was being set aside for electronic table games. That space will just now be used for something else, Siebert said.

"We can survive without them (the table games), that's for sure," Siebert said.

Kane agreed.

"We still think our customers will be very happy with the expansion," Kane said.

Related link: The Buffalo News.

Dave Olsen
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The Senecas had their taxes reduced, Siebert said, so should Batavia Downs.

We all need to have our taxes reduced, Mr. Siebert.

tom hunt
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And don't call them slot machines........they are electronic scratch off lottery tickets. There is no random or skill involved; just a large mainframe, down state, feeding tickets to a PC installed in every machine. The bean counters control everything.

Robert Brown
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Not so fast!

There's a winner and a loser in every game. Guess who loses in this one? Yep, the local folks. Batavia Downs will survive, but it won't get to the next level - ever. Thanks Uncle Andy! The name restriction is going to cost $. Maybe millions of dollars - all advertising has to change, all wrapped vehicles, all signs, all logos, and probably all merchandise. That won't impact the number of customers coming in or the money they spend, but it affects the Batavia Downs bottom line and that's when it hits locally in the amount of dollars distributed back to the communities.

The beautiful thing about Batavia Downs is the bottom line profits don't go to some bad haired corporate giant with an ego the size of Manhattan who only sees Batavia as a line item on a spreadsheet. Instead, the profits go to the supporting counties in the region. Sure, WROTB and some level of suited muckity mucks have their fingers in the pot as well as the Albanians, but still the millions of cash that an owner would normally get are distributed back locally. We own the joint!

And aside from the cash lost to renaming expenses, Batavia Downs will likely never see a table game. And for the folks who like to play them, they're doing so out of the area with nothing coming back to Genesee and the surrounding counties. Zip, zero, bang, nada! The cash flow to Albany will be reduced from the Senecas and Uncle Andy will get his full fledged casinos in New York State, but far far away and at a far greater expense.

http://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/report-cuomos-deal-with-seneca...

And the bigger slap in the face: yet another exclusivity clause! Whomever authored the first deal with the Senecas was an utter moron. Uncle Andy is no better - he's again sold out WNY. Thanks for nothing and that goes to all our feeble representatives too - none of them are helping, none of them are stopping the insanity. But they wear nice suits and get their personal slices of the pie.

Shameful.

Now why is government holding a monopoly on gaming???

jason reese
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Come on seneca's put a casino in downtown batavia, ny. And give gamblers a real chance of winning, unlike Batavia's Casino, opps i mean gaming. Bring in the cards, the dice and the wheels, the alcohol and the ladies, and of course on line gambling. Show Batavia, Ny how it's done correctly!

Dave Olsen
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Good points, Bob. I was thinking along the same lines about the exclusivity arrangement as I read the story earlier this morning.

If we had true economic freedom around here, then anyone could open a "casino" and call it whatever they wanted to.

Bob and Dave's Gambling Joint
"If you're going to give your money away, lose it here, 'cause we're darned friendly"

Robert Brown
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Bob & Dave's! LMAO!!!

Fred GUNDELL
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This just shows why Albany needs to get out of the Gambling Business.They can't run anything. Why are the Senecas telling NY State what they can and can not do? All they care about is selling untaxed cigarettes, and riping off everybody they can. Including Batavia and Rochester. The private sector should own and operate the Casino's. No OTB, No Native Americans, No Albany. And oh by the way... stop the sale of untaxed cigartetes to non- Native Americans period. Otherwise just stop all taxes on Cigarettes in the State. It is amazing what happens once politicans get involved... How do these idiots get elected?

Michelle WIlliams
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Y. I must say that I am 100% offended by the ignorant and negative stereotypes being portrayed in the comments above. First the Senecas do not "tell" NYS what to do. The tribes with gaming capabilities contribute a significant amount to the areas that they operate in. This goes back to treaties and agreements that have been made over the last several hundred years. It is not about a monopoly and I am very sorry that anyone in 2013 has the audacity to compare us to a crime syndicate. You live here, you buy gas, you buy cigarettes and you don't complain on saving money. Some of you drive the 90 and 219 south which both cut through reservation land. There has been give and take for years between each state and the tribes. This is nothing new. You live on land that belonged or in some cases still belongs to tribes. What was given was given in exchange for certain rights on both sides. The issue of Batavia Downs has long been discussed because its existence in its present state violates gaming clauses. Now suddenly after years of the casinos in place you complain when the Senecas are in the right on this topic. Many of you should read more about the treaties before you act so disrespectfully. I am sad that I live among some of you because in an area with so many reservations you would think that you would be more enlightened about the history between all of us.

Ed Hartgrove
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Nya:Weh Sgeno - Thank you, Michelle. Well spoken!

Dave Olsen
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Michelle; I did not mean to offend any Seneca people. I will delete the syndicate comment. But it is still protectionism and it is and always will be about the money. The casinos have it and Cuomo wants it, he will make whatever deal he has to to get it. He doesn't give a whit about treaties. I have no issue whatsoever with the native American people, I just think everyone should have the opportunity to operate whatever business they want wherever they can.

Dave Olsen
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Actually, the more I think about it, the Senecas and the other nations should keep all the money they make and not owe anything to NYS. That's a trade off for all the mis treatment they have endured. They were here first, that's a fact. If they want to kick a few bucks to a city or county like say Niagara Falls, I'd say it's the right thing to do, but not forced, and no protected territories. no state run casinos either. Free market competition and they are still getting a bit of an advantage. Fair

Michelle WIlliams
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Thank you both Ed and Dave. While I am not Seneca I do have family on Seneca land. I am both Six Nations Mohawk and Blackfoot. I do understand the idea of this feeling like a barrier to free market. However it is not. If you look at the Seminole tribe in FL although they have suffered corruption from within...they have used their gaming revenue to not only nearly eliminate poverty on their reservation but they paid the state of FL a large sum of money willingly to prevent public schools across the state from closing or cutting extracurricular activities due to budget cuts. Many tribes have become self sufficient or close to it and given back to the counties that they operate in. There are numerous other industries for everyone to participate in. I only speak up because enough treaties continue to be broken. Having Mr. Cuomo acknowledge the contents of those treaties is a step in the right direction for all of us. We are not all alcoholic, drug addicted gambling addicts. We do not get free land because we are born n8v nor are we exempt from federal and state taxes. We do not all get annuities from the casinos (lord knows many do not). We are all equals. We were born the same and bleed the same. It is time to educate each other so the above discussions do not need to be had. If roles were reversed and my people wegiven the best land and the use of land that someone else called home for thousands of years. I would expect them to have been given something in return just as the treaties were created to do. Please be more thoughtful when discussing other ethnicities. Again we are all equals...nya:weh

Michelle WIlliams
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And as a side note...Ed it is a huge honor for you to speak in a n8v tongue to me. A simple hello or thank you can make anyones day!

Kyle Slocum
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Prince Andrew declared war on NY's law abiding gun owners. He declared war on the sovereign Indian Nations. Why are we arguing about minutia and not storming the Albanians (I'm stealing that, Robert) with pitchforks and burning tires? Why?

NYC will not respect us flyover people, ever. The only thing we can do is make it too much trouble for them to mess with us. The Senecas are showing the way. We simply need to follow.

Ed Hartgrove
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Hi, Michelle. We have conversed before (on dailynews site) - sayit8ntso

As I said, I grew up knowing quite a few from the 'reservation', swam with them at the 'feeder', and saw how many were treated.

Please, don't think I could sit and have a conversation in your native tongue. I only know how to greet someone. I wouldn't want you to get the wrong impression.

Have a Good night, and a better tomorrow!

Mark Potwora
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Coumo is in the game of picking losers and winners....If there is a treaty in place then that treaty should come first......But to short change Batavia in any way would be wrong..The state should compensate any revenues that might be lost to localities in this deal..The city of Niagara Falls is broke and this was just a way for Coumo to bail them out..Just like his IDA idea for not taxing companies that build on college land ..He just enjoys picking winners and losers and nothing else...He does not act like a Governor but a Dictator....Where does the republican and Conservative party stand on this..... We never hear anything out of those two groups...

RICHARD L. HALE
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Is it true, the Seneca representatives asked to see Andy's tongue before they signed the agreement?

david spaulding
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dave,nice job at self censonrship....now you have to change the way you feel......you don't want to offend anyone do you?

i'd like to share with you how i'm offended by people who think they are somehow better than me, that they somehow are entitled to rights I don't have because of who their granparents were....unless you were born before me, you are NOT here first....what does "who's on first " have to do with anything...

Dave Olsen
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Thank You David. The way I feel about this didn't change one bit. The comment I removed took focus off the main issue, which is our esteemed governor deciding who can be in what business where. I am always in favor of economic freedom. For everyone. I'm suggesting that it could start with the native Americans, since factually they were here first, but I want it to happen for everyone. This protectionism and monopoly on a specific industry is plain wrong, regardless of who it protects.

Each and every journey begins with a single step. This one is in the wrong direction.

Fred GUNDELL
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I also apologize if anything I said offended anyone. I do respect Native Americans, and believe that ALL Americans should have the same rights and privlidges. I do NOT like Native Americans being able to sell Cigaretes Tax free, while the rest of the State pays a hefty TAX!! I said that ALL Taxes should be eliminated if any group is exempted. Same with gas. The Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls smells and reeks of cigarette smoke. That is because they sell cigarettes tax free. They claim the Casino is on Seneca Land. That parcel of land they are located on used to be a water park. It is NOT sovergn land. It was sold to them by politicans in Albany trying to make money. It is all about money, Taxes, and King Andrew. Gosh, if the Thruway crosses Native American Land, then they should charge and get a toll. I'll bet they run it better than the Thruway Authority runs their part.lol We as a population somehow need to get King Andrew and all his servants eliminated from Albany. I don'y care what Party they are. I wish all my Native American friends peace and prosperity.

tom hunt
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I read an interesting article in the Democrat & Chronicle this morning ( Saturday's home edition). The NYS's cut of the 3 or 4 proposed private State run casinos in the Catskills will be 25% as opposed to the current State cut of 67% for the 5 currently running Racinos. Mr. Kane the President of the WNYOTB is already crying unfair....rightfully so. The reduction in the State's cut for future operations of the Senaca's casinos has not been announced as of yet. But I bet it will be substantial.

King Andrew is playing politics with people's money again.

david spaulding
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yeah yeah,..... can somebody come up with a title for me?just so i can get some reconition. i'm not a military veteran, i'm not in a minority,not yet anyways, and i don't have a handicap...but for some reason every time i go somewhere i'm told to get to the back of the line and when i finally do get to the front somebody is standing there with their hand out wanting me to pay for the ones who went before me..... i'm sick of being treated like i'm some kind of brothers keeper....i was born right here in western new york at sisters hospital, doesn't that mean anything? hell no it doesn't..
worked my whole life to raise a family, never once took any public handouts, even though i did pay to subsidise(sp) them..now i have the american dream, i own my house and the land it sits on....very proud of myself.....now how do i keep it? pay 6 thousamd dollars a year to some public entity who has no knowledge as to how you balance a checkbook, and if i don't, they will take my house and give all the proceeds to someone "special" who deserves it way more than i do.....

Robert Brown
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I don't think most of us have an issue with honoring terms of contracts and treaties. What we do find problematical is our elected government and the deals they make. Our local government appears to do nothing while being stomped on by the Albanians (sorry, I'm starting to enjoy officially recognizing the eastern resort area for the rich and infamous) and our state government is the most efficient vacuum ever created (what goes in never comes back out).

Government has no business in business.

Since it's inception in 1967, the New York State Gaming Commission (nee New York State Lottery) has generated billions ($48.43B according to their website) in the name of education. Are the kids in NYS better off because of NYS run games? Are the taxpayers paying less because of NYS run games?

Here's a fun site: http://febp.newamerica.net/k12/NY

You can decide for yourselves. I highly doubt someone said "hey, let's run gaming to save education".

Now think about the numbers: NYS has generated just a tad over $1B per year for "education" over its 46 year gaming history. That's hardly eye popping for a statewide multi-billion dollar industry. Check out last year's NYS Gaming Commission fiscal report:

http://www.gaming.ny.gov/pdf/fiscal2012-13.pdf

Bottom line: a near record $3.04B profit from a record $8.93B Sales + Net Win for the 2012 fiscal year.

For the 2.7M or so students in NYS spending close to the national average of $11K per student per year we'd "only" need $29.7B per year for education! Head spinning isn't it? The $3.04B gaming revenue would be just over 10% of the budget - hardly a major difference maker. In reality NYS is tracking to spending almost $20K per student per year (almost twice the national average) for a staggering $54B per year expense for education. WOW! And the gaming revenue only solves about 5.6% of that total. Yikes!

And yet, the gaming industry is a 100% guaranteed money maker! So why does government allow itself the privilege of running the industry? And why is it cutting deals to secure additional funding at the expense of specific localities (granted those types of deals were made years ago)? Heck, it wasn't that long ago when our same government enforced laws against it. Oh wait, there's money to be made...

So if the state isn't moving the needle substantially by offsetting education expense with gaming revenue, just what is happening with the gaming industry and specifically the deals that are being made? Are certain regions getting preferential treatment on what forms of gaming they are allowed to offer? Does that then affect all their peripheral businesses like travel and accommodations, food and service, and even the viability of their communities with numbers of jobs, types of jobs, and pay? Does the revenue stream from the aforementioned deals lead to deposits outside the bounds of the education fund?

What we do know for sure is that because of government, local gaming options are restricted in Genesee County (and elsewhere in WNY) and thus so are revenues. There is no reasonable growth potential for the industry in restricted regions and thus there is no reasonable gaming-initiated growth potential for the local communities. People who want specific gaming options will either not play or will play elsewhere. Travel and auxiliary dollars will be spent elsewhere. But the Albanians won't suffer, they will still get their cut. You can bet on that!

tom hunt
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They are not really taxes, but the NYS's cut of the profit pie. It is currently at 67% of the net. See my comments below.

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