Finger Lakes and Western New York gaming facilities are economic engines, providing jobs, tax dollars, and critical opportunities for communities around the region. Fair Compact for All is dedicated to making sure New York State treats everyone impacted by a new Seneca Nation gaming compact fairly. Our communities and constituencies must continue to access and benefit from the full potential of the existing gaming operations that have long provided family-sustaining jobs and widespread local economic impact.
The Fair Compact for All coalition is aligned with local elected leaders, businesses, and community members who believe a new Seneca gaming compact can be reached that protects local jobs, ensures communities have future financial certainty, and respects the voices of all who will be impacted by the outcome of negotiations between the state and the Seneca Nation.
The four existing Finger Lakes and Western New York gaming facilities – del Lago Resort & Casino and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, Hamburg Gaming, and Batavia Downs Gaming – employ more than 3,500 New Yorkers, the majority of whom are union members, and generate significant economic and community impact on the towns, counties, and regions where they operate.
The four venues pay close to $180 million in annual gaming taxes to the state, the bulk of which is dedicated to education aid. That is considerably more than the annual revenue the Seneca Nation has shared over the duration of its existing compact with Western New York communities – many of which have seen their respective populations and property tax bases steadily shrink.
These four facilities have also spurred economic development throughout the region, generating and supporting new jobs and ancillary industries. In addition, they have provided charitable support for and volunteer hours to countless organizations and causes that benefit the local communities in which they are located.
Any new Seneca gaming compact must protect the future viability of the four existing non-Native gaming operations and ensure that they can continue to contribute to the communities that have come to depend on their success. The gaming market is saturated, and the state comptroller has warned that oversaturation threatens the benefits existing gaming facilities generate for their host areas.
Seneca gaming compact negotiations are continuing. It’s imperative that the state carefully listens to all who would be impacted by changes to the current structure and acts in an open and honest way that results in the best possible deal that works for the Seneca Nation, New York, and our communities.
Most importantly, to achieve a Seneca gaming compact that is truly equitable and fair for all, negotiations between the Nation and the state must not only be conducted in good faith but also be fully transparent. Secret backroom deals are undemocratic and do not take into consideration the voices of vulnerable local community members who will be impacted by a new compact.
in annual gaming taxes to the state
the majority of whom are union members, with thousands more jobs created & supported across the region
in annual charitable funding & hundreds of volunteer hours for organizations & causes regionwide
I’m originally from New York City but have lived in the Finger Lakes for eight years now. I’ve been with del Lago since the casino opened, starting in security.
Now as a warehouse manager, I do all the receiving of products and all the receipting of the products before it gets delivered to its designated department. I get to see a totally different aspect of the casino. I see a lot of the logistical aspects that pretty much run the casino.
I live in the community, 10 minutes from del Lago. Honestly, if people want a good-paying job with good health benefits, a yearly raise as a member of the union, this is the place to work. The pay and the benefits have really provided for my family. I wish more people were applying for positions that are open right now.
And for our local area, del Lago has delivered tax benefits that make a big impact. That’s what people should understand about what a business like del Lago brings to the area: it’s both the economic impact of the individual jobs and the impact made on local services and other businesses.
— David Bethea, del Lago Resort & Casino warehouse manager
I was a trainer until about six years ago, when I handed the mantle over to my son, Dylan. Now I’m his assistant trainer.
We also own a farm about five miles from the track. Dylan and my wife, Anne, also work there, and my other son, Zachary, who’s 17, works there on a part-time basis. My daughter, Sara, has bred several New York horses at the farm and enjoyed success at the races with them.
My mother, grandfather and great-grandfather were all involved in the horse business. I’m a fourth-generation horseman. My kids are the fifth. We moved to the Finger Lakes in 2014 after the closing of Suffolk Downs. We looked around and determined that this would be very good area to raise the kids.
When you go to other tracks, you meet a lot of people from all other. I don’t think you can overstate this: Finger Lakes is very much a family-oriented facility. We don’t have a lot of other people shipping in from other states. The backside is populated mostly by families who have been racing for generations. It’s a very nice place to be.
Last year, our handle increased by 18 percent, defying the national trend. I think this says a lot about the dedication and skills of our local horsemen and the competitiveness of our racing.
— Matthew Clarke, Finger Lakes horse owner; FLHBPA member
I’m originally from the Philippines, and del Lago is the first and only place I’ve worked since I came to the United States. I started out as a server and now work as a slot attendant. I just love my job. It’s been such a good opportunity for me. It’s a very good environment to work in. It’s really helped me become who I am now. It’s given me a steppingstone to be part of a business and community.
I live in Clyde, about 10 minutes away from the casino. I’ve seen del Lago help our community make progress, providing jobs for more people and supporting other local businesses.
For anyone looking for a new opportunity for themselves and their family, del Lago provides such good opportunities to this community.
— Fretchel Bond, del Lago Resort & Casino slot attendant
I’ve been with del Lago since the casino opened in 2017. Before I was a server at a family-owned restaurant, and I started as a server here before working my way up to banquet captain.
What I love is it’s something different every day. I oversee all of our events, like banquets, wedding showers, tons of business meetings. We have groups that are here for two days, then the next day you’re doing a baby shower, then we have local groups coming in, we have groups that are from Buffalo and from downstate.
I live locally right here in Waterloo. Lago has provided job security for this area. I feel like a lot of the larger companies that are in this area are moving to their home base offices in cities. Lago not only has nurtured a large workforce and provides opportunities to move up the ladder, but the employees, including the executives, are involved in local communities and charities.
I feel like when you’re hired, you develop a work family, and there’s stability that comes with that.
— Gerikay Forde, del Lago Resort & Casino banquet captain
We met while working at Belmont. Ron is from Pen Yann and started working at Finger Lakes in the early 1960s, first as a hot walker, then galloping horses, before moving away to work at other tracks. Debra was born and raised in Queens and graduated from ag school at Cornell. We came back upstate in 1981 after getting married.
We raised four kids off the racetrack, and they’re all very hardworking because of that. Horses are our livelihood. We have a farm with 16 horses in which our daughter is a part owner. Our son owns and trains horses. And we help support local businesses. All our hay, our feed, we buy it all locally.
If you’re willing to work and you have some ethics, you can make a living doing all sorts of things. Hot walkers, groomers, exercisers – a lot of people have started here and gone off to have successful careers in New York City or Florida.
It’s a big network, but it’s also a family. As much as you are competitive with people and race against them and have rivalries, they’re always there for you. Oury son was very sick, and people brought food, they set up programs. When something happens, it’s amazing; they step up every time.
— Ron and Debra Breed, Finger Lakes horse owners; FLHBPA members
I’ve been a trainer since about 1973, but I’ve worked at the track since I was about 11 or 12 years old. Back then, I was sneaking in to walk the horses. The track came to me, really. They built it when I was about 7 years old. The first time my dad took me to Finger Lakes, he was a $2 gambler and was hooked; I knew I was never going to be a fireman. I just loved the horses. I loved the competition. It was always very appealing to me.
After my 18th birthday, I got my trainer’s license. I’ve raced horses at many other tracks. I had a stable down in Belmont, and we used to go to other states in the wintertime when Finger Lakes was closed. But this is home. It’s a nice little track and it has a lot of appealing things about it. It’s a really good place to raise a family.
I’ve raised six kids here. They’ve all been in the business at one time or another. I have five sons and a daughter. Two sons – my oldest and fourth oldest – train, and the third oldest owns horses and does the financial aspect of my business. My wife owns horses, they run in her name. We have 14 altogether at the farm in Shortsville, Ontario County. There’s a lot of farmers in the area, and they sell their hay and oats. It’s a big network, really.
— Chris Englehart, Finger Lakes horse owner, FLHBPA member
I’ve had a long career in the administrative support field and have been an executive assistant at Hamburg Gaming for the last 6 years.
I was raised within the Hamburg community from birth, along with a large extended family, the majority of whom remain in the Buffalo area. The local community comes to Hamburg Gaming because they feel safe, can enjoy a comfortable atmosphere, have easy building access, and can have a lot of fun.
I have the unique privilege to work with all our team members here at least at some level. There is a great sense of unity and teamwork among my co-workers, and it’s very fulfilling providing entertainment and hospitality to our guests.
We have team members of all ages – from college age to retirement. The jobs at Hamburg Gaming are important to the community. What I appreciate most is our “retirees,” who are retired from their careers and now just want to keep busy. They provide a strong foundation for the great culture here at Hamburg Gaming.
— Debra Bielawa, Hamburg Gaming executive assistant
I started at Hamburg Gaming 13 years ago as a part-time floor attendant and became a shift manager within a year. Subsequently, I was promoted to full-time operations shift supervisor before attaining my current position.
I’m originally from Orchard Park but moved to Hamburg two decades ago, swiftly embracing the locality for its strategic positioning—being a mere 10 minutes from the city of Buffalo and 30 minutes from the enchanted mountain region. The area boasts a diverse array of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options, with Hamburg Gaming standing out among them.
I am directly responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the gaming floor, which includes managing operations shift managers, floor attendants and coatroom attendants. Additionally, I am readily available to assist other departments with technical and guest-related issues. My primary objective is to ensure the satisfaction and entertainment of our guests while upholding a safe and welcoming atmosphere.
Hamburg Gaming serves as a community hub where guests often gather, knowing each other by name. Whether they meet for lunch at Indulge Restaurant, try their luck on one of our 900 gaming machines, or unwind at The Cyclone Bar after a day of work, I take pride in enhancing their overall experience. I make it a point to know many guests personally, engage in brief conversations, and address any issues or concerns they may have.
— Mitchell Sash, Hamburg Gaming senior operations shift manager