New Coalition Will Fight for Transparency, Equity, & Financial Certainty for All as State Negotiates New Seneca Gaming Compact

 

ALBANY, NY (October 11, 2023) – A coalition representing gaming, organized labor, and community interests across the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions has formally launched the Fair Compact for All coalition to ensure a transparent and equitable process as the State negotiates a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation.

 

The current 20-year compact between the Seneca and the State expires Dec. 9, 2023. The coalition strongly believes that a new compact must treat everyone across the Finger Lakes and Western New York fairly so all communities can continue to reap the full benefits of the existing gaming operations that provide family-sustaining jobs, widespread local economic impact, and support of nonprofit organizations. Fair Compact for All has launched a website — FairCompactForAll.com — to outline the value of existing gaming and the need for fairness in the next agreement.

 

The four existing Finger Lakes and Western New York gaming facilities – del Lago Resort & Casino, 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 pay close to $180 million in annual state gaming taxes.

 

That is far more than the annual gaming taxes paid to the State by the Seneca Nation under its existing compact. Meanwhile, many of the Western New York communities where Seneca gaming operations are located have seen their populations and property tax bases steadily shrink. None of the workers at any of the Nation’s gaming operations are union members.

 

“Our casino alone, which is the largest entertainment employer in Seneca County, has generated more than 1,500 direct and indirect jobs along with more than $200 million in annual sales of good and services pre-pandemic,” said Lance Young, Vice President and General Manager of del Lago Resort & Casino. “We are still building back our operations. A truly fair Seneca gaming compact will recognize the importance of these contributions and enable us to continue to grow and support the community for years to come.”

 

This past June, many Fair Compact for All coalition members rallied in opposition to a deal that would have brought a new Seneca casino to Monroe County. Fair Compact for All continues to oppose any new Seneca gaming operations, as oversaturation of gaming is a serious threat to the tax revenues, jobs and other community benefits provided by existing gaming facilities across the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions.

 

A 2021 study conducted by Spectrum Gaming for the New York State Gaming Commission found that the upstate gaming market is already oversaturated. In addition, the state comptroller has warned that further oversaturation in the market threatens the benefits existing gaming facilities generate for their respective host communities.

 

“We cannot and will not tolerate any middle-of-the-night deals that lack transparency, public input, and data-driven economic analysis,” said Chris Riegle, President and General Manager of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack. “We welcome competition, but we can’t compete without a level playing field. We look forward to working with our coalition members, local elected officials, and representatives in Albany to secure a truly fair compact for all.”

 

“Tourism-generated labor income in the Finger Lakes region totals $1.8 billion and represents a significant area of potential growth for the local economy,” said Gary Bonadonna Jr., Manager of the Rochester Regional Joint Board/Workers United. “Unionized gaming workers enjoy family-sustaining wages and benefits that enable them to contribute to their respective communities. Their jobs would be endangered by a new Seneca compact that fails to recognize the need to preserve and protect existing gaming operations. We refuse to let that happen.”

 

“Our members work seven days a week, 365 days a year because horses don’t take vacations and need daily care,” said Austin Reed, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “We don’t just work in this community, we live here, pay taxes, and send our kids to school here. We deserve a fair and transparent Seneca gaming negotiation process that protects our jobs and our significant contributions to our local economy.”

 

“We are a public benefit corporation owned by the 15 participating counties that rely on us to generate funds for their operating budgets,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming. “Unfair competition dropped on top of us would not only hinder that mission but also the welfare of our employees and the hard-working men and women in the harness racing industry who depend on us for their livelihoods.”

 

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For more information contact Liz@MarathonStrategies.com, or call 518-424-0356.