Casino Expected to Devastate City Tourism and Entertainment Industry

The Seneca-run casinos in Western New York gave away $42 million in “loss leaders” in the nine months ending June 30, 2010, according to an independent analysis provided by one of the area’s professors of hospitality and tourism management. 

The combination of these giveaways and the Seneca Gaming Corporation’s (SGC’s) advantages of paying no taxes and operating under a different set of rules, regulations and laws, compared with all other competing hospitality entities, “pose a formidable threat to any and all other hospitality operations in WNY,” according to Prof. Siegel.  “The continued viability of that vibrant industry as an economic generator would be at stake if the Buffalo Creek Casino was ever completed.”

Siegel’s report was presented to the Common Council’s Legislation Committee this afternoon by the Citizens for a Better Buffalo, a group of civic minded and concerned citizens formed to stop a casino from being built in downtown Buffalo.

“I have never encountered a competitive situation where one business entity has such a staggering competitive advantage over other entities,” said Prof. Steve H. Siegel, who has taught and researched in this field for over 30 years.

“What the public hears from the media about the supposed economic impact of the proposed casino is a series of very large numbers……$200 million in revenue, 1,400 new jobs, etc. What we rarely hear about is the devastating negative economic impact that research shows occurs when a tax exempt casino is placed on what is claimed to be sovereign land within an urban setting,” he said in his full report.

The report goes on to say, “The citizens of WNY need a true accounting of the millions of dollars from the operation of a casino that would leave the area and flow to Albany. They also need to be told that this proposed casino will actually cause a net loss of jobs which will continue to hemorrhage out of WNY each year that the casino would be in operation. Perhaps most importantly the SGC’s own financial numbers as presented in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings clearly indicate that if a full-service casino is constructed anywhere within the City of Buffalo, the impact on the lodging, food and beverage and entertainment industries will be devastating.”

Research shows that for every three video slot machines in any casino, that area will, within the second year of operation, lose two jobs in the local economy. The proposed casino in Buffalo would have between 1900 and 2200 slot machines, so if the project is built, we can expect to lose between 1200 to 1400 jobs each year. The larger the casino, the more slot machines it contains, the greater the job loss to the local economy (Source: Professor John Kindt- U of Illinois, 2001 – Analysis, Professor Steve Siegel – Niagara U., 2008).

Why? Because the average net revenue for every SGC video slot machines, during the 9 month period ending on June 30, 2010, was $53,863. Extrapolating this for a 12 month period it would be $71,800. Therefore every three video slot games will suck $215,400 in discretionary spending out of our economy that could have been spent at other area businesses such as the local dry cleaners or the butcher shop, the bowling alley or local food and beverage operations.  Business owners respond to reduced volume by laying people off or cutting back hours of the existing employees in order to reduce costs.

The larger the casino, the more devastating the impact on the local unemployment situation. At the current projected size for the proposed casino, within two years the local economy will lose far more jobs than the SGC claims it will create and the area will continue to lose more jobs each subsequent year as more and more money is diverted from other businesses into the slot machines.

The City of Buffalo’s estimates of the payback from Albany to Buffalo from the “drop” on “slots” is $5-7 million per year, about equivalent to the revenue budgeted from writing parking tickets ($5.5 million), according to the 2010-11 adopted budget for the City of Buffalo. A $5.5 million payback would make up a mere 1.2 percent of the city budget of over $451 million. Given the social and economic costs to the city and its citizens of the casino, this project is not cost effective according to the Citizens for a Better Buffalo.

DSC_04051c.JPGThe temporary casino has proven popular, despite its lack of amenities.  The SGC reports that Buffalo Creek attracted 541,063 visits in 2009, up from 420,180 in 2008, and that it generated $9 million in exclusivity payments to New York State.  As part of the Seneca compact with the State, the SGC pays 25 percent of slots revenue to the State in exchange for the exclusive right to operate casinos in Western New York.  It can be estimated, then, that the Buffalo Creek Casino had roughly $36 million in slots revenue in 2009.

According to the SGC’s report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), $4.6 billion in “slot handle” passed through the slot machines at the existing SGC casinos during the 9 month period ending June 30 2010. This extrapolates to $6 billion per year. “6 Billion dollars is wagered yearly on a product which costs little to create and therefore returns little economic value to the community, but much in the way of social problems,” said Prof. Siegel in the full report.

The casinos operated five of their six “product lines” at a projected 9-month loss of over $50 million, yet the SGC, for the same period, showed “operating income” of $83 million.  “Obviously the five products (food, beverage, lodging, entertainment and retail) are ‘loss leaders’ to get people into the casino, keep them there and get them to come back.  These five products that the casinos merely give away form the backbone of the local hospitality economy…. restaurants located within a casino complex and subsidized by hundreds of millions of dollars of gaming revenues can easily undersell all restaurants in the area and effectively put them out of business,” says Prof. Siegel’s analysis of the SGC SEC filing.

The impact that this will have if the casino is ever opened in Buffalo would be to drive many hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues out of business because it is impossible to compete with an entity that gives away the product for free. There is no known business strategy for competing in this type of competitive environment.

The casino not only diverts large sums of discretionary spending away from other local businesses and into the casino, but to compound the “financial hit” to the local hospitality industry the casino then gives the gambler back promotional points which can only be redeemed in the casino – and were – to the tune of $42,743,000 worth of food, beverage, lodging, entertainment and retail sales.

Promotional Allowances (Player Points Redemption)
Specifically: (from SEC filing)
80% of guest room revenue was not realized – given away complimentary.
52% of food and beverage revenue was not realized – given away complimentary
73% of entertainment tickets issued and retail merchandise distributed was given away free

DSC_0380b.JPGThe SGC gave away an average of 653 hotel rooms per night, every night. This is more rooms given away per night than the total number of rooms that the Adams Mark and the Buffalo Hyatt SELLS on an average night. A large hotel, as planned for the Buffalo Creek site, would drain off a considerable amount of business from local upscale hotels. Given that hotels need to sell an average of approximately 55- 60% of their rooms each night to break-even, even a small perturbation in the competitive market structure can turn the property into a money losing operation.

A group of 23 plaintiffs, including Citizens Against Casino Gambling, had sued to stop the casino, arguing that the Senecas are not authorized to operate off-reservation casinos. In decisions issued July 8, 2009 and August 26, 2009, U.S. District Judge William Skretny ruled that the National Indian Gaming Commission had erred in allowing the casino and ordered the Commission to determine whether it should be shut down.

The case remains in litigation.  In the meantime, the SGC opened a $6 million temporary casino at the Buffalo Creek site on July 3, 2007, with slot machines and a snack bar.  On March 16, 2010, the SGC completed a $9 million expansion of the temporary casino, bringing the total of slot machines to 455. 

Prof. Siegel calls the casino a “huge money sucking vacuum;” he concludes:  “There exists hard data that should make it clear to our citizens and decision makers that not only won’t the casino deliver on its inflated claims, but it would actually serve as a huge money sucking vacuum, redirecting hundreds of millions of dollars from local businesses and putting far more people out of work than it can ever hope to employ in the casino.”

Prof. Steve H. Siegel teaches at the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Niagara University.  Prof. Siegel’s work is independent of his position at Niagara University and does not necessarily represent the views of Niagara University.  He received no compensation for his report and is not a member of Citizens for a Better Buffalo.

About the author  ⁄ david steele

73 comments
DOC
DOC

I don't believe it for a minute. Casinos are going up all over. Furthermore, people WANT TO GAMBLE. Why is that so difficult to understand? If people don't gamble here they will go across the border and bring their money completely to Canada where WNY wouldn't see a dime. In fact, given the more stringent border crossing rules, we'd likely see more people staying in Bufalo to Gamble. And all those give-aways from the Seneca's? That just means more money the people will have to spend here in Buffalo! It's a WIN-WIN. The area hotel owners are behind this recent uprising of opposition to the Casino and the reason we are hearing more about this is because the Seneca's have put the Casino back on the front burner. Otherwise we haven't heard anything. A professor from Niagara University seems a little self-serving. How about hiring a professor of Business and Finance from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and see what they have to say about the value of a Casino. Las Vegas has money problems, true, but they weren't caused by the Casinos that's for sure. They were caused by the sub-prime mortgage crisis which put 25% of the homes in Las Vegas into some form of foreclosure. Build the Casino. Nothing is going to happen. If there is an "imbalance" then it becomes incumbent upon the hoteliers to correct this. Snyder, for one, has gotten more of our taxpayer’s money than I care to think. Let the powers that be in this town get their voice heard in Albany to make a stronger business climate in upstate NY and create more jobs. I've gone from a casino doubter to a casino supporter. There are no hard data sets for this region supporting a claim of financial drain. If there is I'd like to see them. Please site the reference and I will inspect the research myself to check its validity. I could blow holes through thatresearch I'm sure. Remember what happened when the Bars and restaurants in Erie County wiswely passed the no smoking ban? It was ridiculous. The bars and restaurants are still CRAMMED with people having a healthier time while the ignorant addicts hang outside in 10 degree weather killing themselves and paying 10.00 a pack to do it.

elias
elias

let's see...'glorified quick draw parlor', then it became 'fake Vegas big blinking lights', then 'pathetic shack'...maybe i jumped the gun a bit on labelling you as a name caller so i apologize...

but then to generalize proponents of casino gaming as 'someone wearing a 3 finger ring, over-sized gold chain, and fedora thinks he looks great'...that's just wrong...your whole argument appears to be emotional now and that's too bad...you were doing fine without the name calling.

but you know what, i'm not going to argue with you...your way is right and others are wrong for encouraging this development at this site...

Buffalo All Star
Buffalo All Star

Exactly..they try and play it off as if the people who stay at the casino hotel would normally be staying somewhere else downtown. I believe the vast majority of the hotel rooms given away would be too people who would just head home anyways. Like wny's mom here..they have 2 options: go home or hope for a comp'd room.

I don't know what the hotel related stress is about here, vacationers aren't gonna book at a casino hotel for their lodging in the area. You ever want a laugh call the one in Niagara Falls and tell them you'd like to book a room..the rates are a joke. ($$$) Its doesn't happen like that, they give away more rooms than the Adams Mark and Hyatt sell on a given night BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE THEM wouldn't normally be staying at all. (I.E. "Trying for a locally focused casino")

Do you honestly think M&T/HSBC/RICHS/FIRST NIAGARA are putting their guests/employees up in the Seneca Niagara Casino hotel? Or at the Buffalo Creek if there was one? Think a little here people.

wnywatercooler
wnywatercooler

so 100% of the money taken by the slot machines does not go towards salaries of the employees who then spend the money in the local economy? do these casino's buy food beverages etc etc from other local companies?

my mother gets free hotel rooms because she gambles, she wouldn't rent a hotel room at the hyatt because she is going to the casino.

flawed numbers it seems to me

The Kettle
The Kettle

Whatever> "You can complain the 25% isn't as high as you want it to be, but it's a lot more than zero and it's very similar to a tax in that it's a payment to the govt.

In some states Native American casinos pay the state govts a much lower rate than 25%, and in some states they pay a higher rate."

If they are operating on their own reservation, I don't see why they would have to pay the state anything. However NY made a special deal in this case allowing the reservation to be redrawn to include mini-reservations in cities. That would be a lot of leverage to squeeze out a better deal since there would be no way to do this without the approval of the state.

I agree that it is unfortunate the legislature outlaws any competition for the SGC. Maybe non-payment of the "exclusivity fees" would allow the state to introduce casino competition.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Elias> "but seeing you are a hardened opponent of casino gaming in buffalo (i see you are resorting to name calling, typical of thinkers of your ilk) "

Really? Only those against the current one sided agreement can be considered "hardened?"

When did I resort to name calling?

Elias> "i will try, though probably unsuccessfully to make the case for image"

Image can be subjective. Some may think fake Vegas big blinking lights and a tower that were promised but will never come are gitz and glamor while others see this as tacky and gaudy. Kind of like someone wearing a 3 finger ring, over-sized gold chain, and fedora thinks he looks great while others would likely turn and snicker.

If you have an issue with the hulking steel skeleton, take it up with the SGC. That is nobody's fault but their own.

Elias> "when i visit other cities, i want to stay in a high rise, i want to be wowed by an impressive skyline"

Again, take this up with your boys at Michigan and Perry. Nothing outside of their own will and/or incompetence is stopping them from making good on those pie in the sky renderings. Those of us who took note of their plans to make BCC a locals only establishment could see the flashy drawings were just snake oil.

Elias> "don't care about gamblers or moralists..."

Me neither. I do care about the laughable terms in which the SGC is allowed to operate their pathetic shack. Even if they did make good on the tower in their drawings, I doubt it would be worth the staggering cost of allowing a private company to operate a tax free monopoly without having to abide by our laws and regulations.

johnnywalker
johnnywalker

A study written by a professor in the hospitality industry who thinks he is an economist? His job exists at NU because of the Seneca Niagara Casino.

saltecks
saltecks

Speak for yourself. If you don't have enough money to do more than one thing at a time, go find a better job.

rubagreta
rubagreta

The only thing I hate more than gambling is anti-gambling fanatics.

What a joke this study is. Gambling addicts already go to NF or Canada. I, and thousands of others, do not gamble, and will not gamble just because this casino is closer to home.

Does this idiot study really think that people are going to stop eating at their favorite restaurants and just eat at the casino? Stop going to museums and the theater?

What this casino will do is get locals away from their TV's and get them to come out and spend money. That money will support the thousands of well-paid employees at the casino. Those employees will stimulate the economy.

The only business I see this impacting is the NF casino. I guess that casino is doing so well that the Senecas are not worried.

And picture NF with a parking lot instead of the casino.

Sally
Sally

True so if not for the Seneca's those concerts that they hold would bypass WNY completely.

pcrosby
pcrosby

Not that I am arguing against the Casino, I actually do agree with it, but angry unbased posts upset me. NU actually has a very well known and highly regarded College of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Which would probably make this guy a pretty darn good reference(even more so than someone at UB).

buffalofalling
buffalofalling

Any research paid sought and "prepared for" a group that has actively fought against the casino can be expected to have a SIGNIFICANT bias and therefore shold be taken with a major grain of salt. And come, it's Niagara University, not exactly home to an excellent research agenda and renowned researchers in urban economics. The group probably tried to find someone at UB willing to take it on and got laughed.

I read the first couple paragraphs and its obvious the research makes ONE HUGE assumption, that people only have X dollars and they only spend it at a casino. The reality is, if they only have X in descretionary spending, they're going to spend it somewhere regardless and his model therefore could be used with any "fill in the blank" business that is willing to sell you something.

Basically, the report seem to be intended to say "listen, we're spending X at the casino that could be spend somewhere we like better." It comes down to personal tastes, not economics.

They'd rather people spend $7 a beer at the Blue Monk and which pays service industry wages to its staff than pay $7 on a slot machine at the casino which pays its employees service industry wages.

F-Agate
F-Agate

Detroit is kicking our a$$es.

Jesse
Jesse

JFC, the reflexive thumbs down for anyone who might say anything in the slightest way positive about casinos reflects really poorly on the general readership of BRO.

The Boss
The Boss

The Salamanca Casino brings a ton of jobs to a struggling rural region. It is a well designed and well run operation. I think Buffalo and NF should fight for a larger cut of NYS share, after all they provide the services. NYS is sucking money out too and funding downstate agendas.

whatever
whatever

Arm>"Casino gaming is illegal in NYS but they chose not to enforce the law."

The state legislature writes all of NY state law and modifies it at their will, limited only by a governor's veto or by court orders. Sometimes there's disputes about whether one part of the law agrees with other parts. Courts sort that out.

By definition, activities authorized by the leg and signed by a gov are legal - until or unless a court orders that such an activity must be stopped.

Arm>"25% of a portion of their overall revenue sounds pretty cheap considering competition is outlawed"

Although it was a bad decision of the leg and gov to decide there should be no other "casino" competitors in Buffalo, there is a lot of similar competition.

For customers who are gambling freaks, the competition includes:

- NYS-owned "racino" in Hamburg

- NYS-owned "casino" in Batavia

http://www.bataviadownscasino.com/BataviaDownsGaming/

- NYS Quick Draw at many bars here

- NYS lottery all over the place

- NYS OTB on Delaware Ave

- Slots across the bridge in Ft Erie

- Multiple casinos in NF Ontario

- Casinos of other tribes in other parts of Upstate NY

- Casinos in other states

- Countless forms of gambling on the Internet

For customers who aren't gambling freaks but just looking for occasional entertainment, the Seneca casino faces competition from many, many alternatives.

You can complain the 25% isn't as high as you want it to be, but it's a lot more than zero and it's very similar to a tax in that it's a payment to the govt.

In some states Native American casinos pay the state govts a much lower rate than 25%, and in some states they pay a higher rate.

whatever
whatever

My fault for misreading the intent of your comment. Sorry about that, Steel.

whatever
whatever

"it's inaccurate to say the Sabres yearly profits are leaving the community"

Cardif, I didn't say yearly profit. I just said the Sabres profits go to Florida.

And yes, minority owners Quinn and the other guy are WNYers, but a big majority of the capital gain profits will go to Golisano in Florida. Shortly 100% of the team will be Florida-owned because that's where the new owner lives.

As Bludevil recently pointed out on here, if the capital gain profit is looked at annualized it was better than the S&P 500 over the course of Golisano's ownership.

Anyhow, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the Sabres being Florida-owned or Regal movie theaters being Tennessee-owned, but it's funny how I've never seen complaints about those forms of entertainment sucking money out of Buffalo in the same way as I've seen from some local anti-casino groups about the Seneca's non-local finance sources.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Fellow Rust-belt, Detroit MI, has four (? or three) casinos in city proper, and one across the river in Windsor.

A perfect case study to draw from.

Anyone have any knowledge of the Detroit casinos to contribute?

All I know is the Motor City is kind of disconnected (near old Tiger Stadium) and GreekTown seems to be pretty close to action (and near the new stadiums). Not sure about MGM.

Boom226
Boom226

The self proclaimed motto of casinos is "keep them inside." Why do you think casinos put restaurants, shops, spas, hotels, and everything else you need inside. They never leave the damn place. Not to mention...do you honestly think people from outside of WNY will go travel to Buffalo because of one casino. Casinos are all over the place now - so who is going to choose Buffalo over Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Niagara Falls, ON? "Yea, we could go to a vibrant city with warm weather, but I hear a new casino was built in Buffalo, lets go there!"It's going to be the local idiots that go there to blow their paycheck.

Think about it...why cities across the country have casinos.

STEEL
STEEL

You never learned how to read did you. Re read please.

Pegger
Pegger

But the Indians make a fortune on the guilt we collectively feel.

Buffalo All Star
Buffalo All Star

Its a weak argument as a whole..it you wanted to apply it to a different sector any consumption based retail business would work: Retail stores, bars, and restaurants.

The basis of the whole anti casino argument (I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong) is that its consumption based and takes up large portions of local discretionary income? It produces no wealth, it doesn't produce/make/fabricate anything therefore not enlarging the pie all other industries draw from?

Then what the hell is the point of all the restaurants/bars and new retail stores that open up in Buffalo every other month?

If the pie every industry draws a piece from isn't growing then every new consumption based business is taking a larger piece of the pie that is ultimately coming from the other.

I'm with Mike too.. umm theres a Casino in Hamburg, bingo halls all over the place, a ton of gambling TEN MINUTES over the border.Ignoring the fact that you can prolly fly to nj or nevada for the price of a hotel room in Niagara Falls, Canada People are already spending the money at casinos and the Bills still sell seats, the local restaurants are still full and last time I checked Chippewa still sells a ton of booze even though theres clubs in NF, Canada casinos?'

The one thing I really wonder though is what would happen if Buffalo and Niagara Falls got ALL of the Casino money vs. sharing it with the state? (ALA NIAGARA FALLS ONTARIO STYLE)Which would ultimately be enough to clean the area up a bit and deal with the social issues resulting from the casino?

Or

I also wondered if those casino points were ever accepted lets say within CITY limits. It was some sort of debit system(I know they want to keep you inside, just a thought)..swipe your casino card for dinner on Hertel, for shopping at Elmwood, beer at the sabres game etc..that'd be kinda cool. (back to reality lol)

elias
elias

ok fair enough...the agreement between the state and the senecas show a percentage of casino revenue going to state and local government, that's what i'm basing my response on. the payment is believed to be in the millions...i doubt the 'business' which harbored tires, rotting trucks and other industrial material at the corner of south park and michigan or the grain elevator which made cereal but did not contaminate the soil and was no longer in use paid that much in property taxes, but whatever...

image is a huge part of this, but seeing you are a hardened opponent of casino gaming in buffalo (i see you are resorting to name calling, typical of thinkers of your ilk) i will try, though probably unsuccessfully to make the case for image...think back to the hockey tournament. alot of people from all over came to visit...they could have had another hotel to stay in, some of them might have maybe wanted to have some fun there, some might even enjoy staying in high rises, instead they got a view of a hulking steel skeleton and another building block upon the sorry image of our city, and at the end of the night, most went back to canada probably to stay at the fallsview or the 57 story hilton, at least that was the impression by more than a few people...thats too bad, because i believe that when people come to visit, they couldn't give one rat's behind about morals or local politics...they want to be entertained, they want nice hotels to stay at, they want cool things to look at and do, they want to leave with a favorable impression of their host city.

when i visit other cities, i want to stay in a high rise, i want to be wowed by an impressive skyline, most of you who post on this site cringe at the thought of suburban hotel design so i know you know what i'm talking about...why armchair, at one point on this thread, you mentioned how the rendering was kinda irresistible...its all about leaving visitors with a good image on many levels, it's alot cooler than i thought, there were many options, i like the architecture, they have great restaurants, i'd definitely go back... if its a hotel with a casino, so what...i personally can't stand casinos or gambling, or even scratch off tickets, but if i can stay in the 30th floor, or in this case, the 22nd floor, i'm not obligated to gamble but i'll have a fantastic view and that's good enough for me...don't care about gamblers or moralists...

pampiniform
pampiniform

Steel did say that the SGC is local. He was arguing that under the circumstances that if we have to have casino gambling, that this is probably the best scenario we're likely to get, in that the profits will stay in the area.

pampiniform
pampiniform

No, it isn't misleading. He could have just mentioned the amount that the state was making just from the Buffalo casino individually and it wouldn't have changed the point he was making.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Whatever> "JM made a good comparison with the Sabres."

Except unlike gambling, pro hockey is a legal and taxpaying business. Casino gaming is illegal in NYS but they chose not to enforce the law.

The 25% that you refer to and the SGC wont (or cant) pay is an exclusivity fee not a tax. 25% of a portion of their overall revenue sounds pretty cheap considering competition is outlawed. Ill bet a lot of legitimate businesses would gladly give 25% of a portion of their profits, and their regular taxes to persuade the government to get rid of competitors.

Imagine if McDonalds gave the state 25% percent of all french fry proceeds for them to shut down BK, Subway, Arbys, KFC, Taco Bell, etc. Stupid policy? Yes. You have to wonder why the same thought process was applied to gaming.

Mike Duff
Mike Duff

Is is wrong for me to spend $200.00 on a Sabres game or $400.00 on a Bills game, if all I do is go to the game and spend money within the arena or stadium? Is this money that I should be spending somewhere else in Buffalo? What about my trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas? I go there to gamble and spend about $5,000 - $8,000 a trip. I could be spending that in Buffalo, but the option isn't readily available, so there is money that could be spent in Buffalo that is going to another state and city.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Right... and it isn't "misleading" at all to include revenues from all area casinos into a discussion about one. How much of that "700 mil" do you think came from the Buffalo Creek Casino?

Mike Duff
Mike Duff

We are in a position where we must regulate anything that could be detrimental because some Americans are incapable of taking care of themselves. If some Americans cannot control themselves when they drink, gamble, smoke, drive, eat, shop, then we must create laws to restrict how much they can drink, gamble, smoke, drop, eat, how fast they can drive, and offer them assistance when they go into debt.

We call these things illnesses and exonerate Americans of all personal responsibility if they do get out of control. If it is an illness then it is obviously not their fault. They couldn't help themselves and someone should have stepped in and made sure that they didn't do something that was potentially harmful in the first place.

We are legislating to the minority who cannot take care of themselves. We are not considering that the majority of those who gamble, drink, smoke, eat, drive, shop, do so with discretion and with a basic understanding of what they are doing. In other words they act like adults instead of children of the state.

Cardiff Giant
Cardiff Giant

Well, the Sabres haven't turned a profit in any year over the past decade or so. Given that, the 'profits' don't go to the pockets of an out-of-town owner. Instead, the out-of-town owner is subsidizing the local community by running a money-losing operation. Now, Golisano more than made up for his annual losses by selling the team at a remarkable capital gain, but nevertheless, it's inaccurate to say the Sabres yearly profits are leaving the community.

pampiniform
pampiniform

You seem to have missed the point I was making there. I was arguing that if we have to forbid things because there are people who are incapable of exercising restraint, where do we stop? What makes some things okay, and others things a menace to the community? There are people who ruin their lives because they can't control their gambling. But there are plenty of people who like to gamble and do so within their means. It's the same with alcohol or crack.

And the point I was making about gambling is that it seems strange that certain types of gambling are okay, but other types are bad.

whatever
whatever

Steel>"a local corporation with profits remaining local"

Huh? Are you unaware that the Seneca's corporation is local to WNY?

What do you mean by implying the Seneca's aren't local or their profits don't remain local?

JM made a good comparison with the Sabres.

In fact, the Sabres ownership is much LESS local. When people buy Sabres tickets, an argument can be made that the profits go out of Buffalo (to Golisano in Florida, or soon to new owner Pegula who also lives in Florida).

And when people buy movie tickets at Regal Cimemas here, the profits go to that publicly traded corp which is headquartered in Knoxville, TN.

When have there been studies and reports complaining about how much $ goes from WNY to Florida from Sabres spending or to Tennessee for spending at movies?

Yes, the Sabres and Regal pay some taxes to NY state, and most of the time the casino has been oepn the Senecas have paid 25% of slot revenues to NY state (isn't called a 'tax' but sounds like the equivalent).

whatever
whatever

Armchair>"The state and city get nothing as of now."

True and misleading.

True because "now" (since Sept 2010) there's been a dispute between the Senecas and NY state about whether NYS is complying with terms of the deal they made, and the Senecas are withholding payments because of that.

Misleading because it deliberately doesn't mention that before the dispute and perhaps again after it's resolved, there were payments of 25% of slot machine revenue from the Senecas to NYS (which in turn sends some of it to the city govt).

A less biased answer to the question from Elias is 25% of slot revenues was being paid until last Sept.

http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=84548&catid=37

"... Under the 2001 Casino Gaming pact New York State receives 25% of the slot revenues, in exchange for having granted the Senecas the exclusive right to operate casinos in Western New York.

The state has received more than $700 million since the agreement went into effect.

But the Senecas say the state has, as of late, been advertising its video gaming facilities at Buffalo Raceway, Batavia Downs, and Finger Lakes Racetrack as "casinos" ...in violation of the agreement. ..."

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I made no argument to outlaw casinos. I was making the case that casinos are not beneficial to the host community and those that claim otherwise are naive at best.

As for bingo, it just doesn't compare. I don't know of anyone losing their home, their spouse, or embezzling money due to bingo. I knew real people that got into real trouble in Niagara Falls. These were people I had worked with for years and they had been responsible and sensible until the casino came to town. Its like crack, a person can spend a fortune in no time, or just blow their paycheck every week while falling behind in their bills. Few other avenues offer quite the fast track to debt and ruin as casinos.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Apples and oranges. Alcohol isn't crack -- they're not at all comparable. And bingo games down at the parish or (whatever) hall -- equal parts social activity and fundraiser for a worthy cause -- don't compare to the Seneca Gaming empire, with its corrupt high-roller board and sovereign territory making regulation and scrutiny challenging to impossible.

Besides, if not for bingo my mother-in-law would be here now getting on everyone's case...(OK, I made that up).

The Kettle
The Kettle

Elias> "what is the percentage the senecas give to the city and state???"

Zero. The state and city get nothing as of now. The "junkyard" that stood before that would have to be assessed pretty low to pull in less revenue than nothing.

Elias> "that was a good image for our downtown core?"

Some would argue a glorified quick draw parlor and rusting steel skeleton are not good for the image of the downtown core either.

Elias> "tons and tons of potential?? on a brownfield...really??? who was going to pay to clean that up?? that entire part of the city is a giant brownfield"

Lets be fair here. The site of a factory that made cereal is not going to have the same environmental contaminants typical of brownfields. Was there some steel factory, chemical plant, or landfill on this site that nobody else is aware of?

DeanerPPX
DeanerPPX

And conversely, I know plenty of examples where people visit a casino, cash in their free room, and only spend an afternoon in the game rooms, and the rest of their visit exploring the area.

For those that never leave the casino grounds, it doesn't do much to hurt the economy. But for the rest (especially in an area like ours) the ripple effect is quite noticeable... especially when we aren't currently getting many tourists otherwise.

pampiniform
pampiniform

That's an interesting argument there. Why don't we just run with it a little. So how about alcohol then? It destroys a lot of families, ruins peoples' health, wrecks peoples' budgets, and causes criminal behavior. Many people are injured or killed by drunk driving every year.

So why don't we just extend the idea that we need to protect people from themselves and shut down all the bars in the city. We could stop restaurants, supermarkets, liquor stores, and convenience stores from selling alcohol.

And while we're at it, why don't we stop all forms of gambling in the city. We should get rid of the lottery. Bingo? Why it only benefits the churches that hold it, not the community, therefore we should ban it, right?

elias
elias

yes, John, niagara falls usa is the same way...it comes down to image and perception...the most identifiable area of any urban area is its downtown, its skyline, its attractiveness to tourists, people who want to go there and spend their sought after dollars there. new york city has some reeeeally scary areas, yet everybody wants to be there... despite niagara falls canada's issue, it has created a spectacular downtown for itself with lots of things to do, including gambling....the slummy areas in nf, canada are not the places where tourists go to spend their dollars, but where they do go, they flock by the millions.

elias
elias

yes the taxpaying issue...what is the percentage the senecas give to the city and state??? isn't that like paying tax? so because the silo was tax generating and the junkyard was tax generating, that was a good image for our downtown core? does the city and state receive less revenue now than they did when these tax generating businesses were operating on this site? i don't know the figures, maybe you do.

a handful of jobs?? the existing casino has volunteers working? a permanent casino will also have volunteers??

tons and tons of potential?? on a brownfield...really??? who was going to pay to clean that up?? that entire part of the city is a giant brownfield...it does have potential though..

The Kettle
The Kettle

Rachacha> "Another source: the recent Common Council finance committee meeting where the City's Corporation Counsel's office admitted that the City has received nearly none of the regular reporting that Seneca Gaming was obligated to provide under its hard-negotiated agreement with the City."

True. Both the state's share and the peanuts pledged to the local community are not being paid. I highly doubt that the 1000 people they promised to hire are crammed in the blue shed.

Oh but those renderings of the 333 million dollar tower was too perty to resist.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Casinos are no different than crack, they suck dollars out of the local economy that would otherwise be invested in tax paying business. They enable dysfunction and bring heartbreak to many families, especially those with low incomes.

I worked in Niagara Falls during the early days of that Casino and witnessed firsthand the problems it created. Many co-workers of mine quickly got into trouble, some even lost their homes, some lost a spouse or significant other due to the crack like addiction to gambling. Their stories were not made public, shame makes a person silent and unlikely to come forward. Others just wasted their money, dollars that otherwise would have been spent in local business establishments that contributed to the community.

The same argument in support of casinos could easily be made in support of crack. Crack brings dollars to the community, provides many jobs, and is a source of recreation for some. Crack is a choice, it is not my problem if some can't handle it. Crack and casinos are just about greed overpowering common sense, no reasonable person can claim otherwise.

JSmith
JSmith

Actually, if you go a block or two inland from the river, Niagara Falls, Ontario is looking pretty shabby too, with plenty of boarded up houses and bleak looking shopping districts.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Elias> "remember what was on that site before?"

Several tax paying properties, a handful of jobs, and lots and lots of potential.

What is on that site now?

Norse1
Norse1

Saying No to Casino does not mean that you say No to more residents living in downtown Buffalo. Saying No to Casino means No to more poverty induced crime and all other bad things which will happen, did you read the report?

Lets get the UB 2020 moving, and with an added 10,000 people we will start to see some action around downtown. Buffalo needs to emphasize its position in culture, research, education & recreational activity, not some pointless gambling where the machines are rigged to make sure you loose.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

So, now, what are the arguments against the casino? As the report released last month by the Partnership for the Public Good shows, it picks poor people's pockets:

http://www.ppgbuffalo.org/poverty-and-casino-gambling-in-buffalo-policy-brief/

And -- as today's report clearly shows -- it picks rich people's pockets, as well.

And even Seneca Gaming has stated (in its filings with the federal government) that their project is planned to be primarily a local casino, that will attract local gamers. So those of you so jaded as to be for the casino picking pockets of the rich and poor *as long as they're from elsewhere* -- nain't gonna happen (and isn't even the idea).

The icing on the cake: the folks who run Seneca Gaming are a bunch of corrupt assholes who ignore their obligations. Sources: the coverage of the negotiations between the City and Seneca Gaming in 2006, when the Seneca Gaming folks were acting and sounding like mafiosi. Since then, many of them have been removed from their positions or even prosecuted over one thing or another.

Another source: the recent Common Council finance committee meeting where the City's Corporation Counsel's office admitted that the City has received nearly none of the regular reporting that Seneca Gaming was obligated to provide under its hard-negotiated agreement with the City.

Gee, what's not to like--?

Mark Hitchcock
Mark Hitchcock

Lets keep downtown Buffalo just the way it is....EMPTY

elias
elias

the question should be what has niagara falls done for niagara falls? the casino has tons of people, the rest of niagara falls doesn't and didn't before the casino...cross the border and there are more casinos, oh, my...but niagara falls, canada has made niagara falls work, they have millions of visitors who visit the casinos, clifton hill, and who knows what else, you want to blame the seneca casino for not having the same effect in niagara falls, usa??? i like what dyster is doing in nf, but his administration has decades of mismanagement to undo, that's not the casino's fault, that's niagara falls' fault, that's new york state's fault...

so yes, look at niagara falls when you consider putting a casino in downtown buffalo...we have had a woeful time attracting people to visit here since BEFORE THE CASINO...it's not the seneca's fault we can't attract tourists, is the city's fault and it's new york state's fault for decades of mismanagement, just like in niagara falls.

i say build the casino in downtown buffalo, and let it be a part of the downtown fabric, and in the mean time, buffalo can find ways to fix itself to make it attractive to visitors of all kinds. keep this in mind, not everybody likes to gamble and not everybody will choose to stay at a hotel with a casino...people like brands, and brands like hyatt, embassy suites, holiday inn, and others will be relevant to travelers and visitors to any destination because of marketing and name recognition. remember what was on that site before? a decaying HO oats silo, and a junkyard...we can go back to that in the name of morality, i'd rather have an attractive piece of real estate on that site versus a junkyard any day.

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