About the Seneca Casino and the Buffalo News

Casino ChipsWhat started out as my comment to this article at In da Buff’s blog became a manifesto, and is reproduced in its entirety here. I am really tired of how the local media loves to portray opportunity as a affront. It is a fear tactic that might sell papers but sure as hell doesn’t help the area’s psyche.

Anyway, both the blog and the News article are about the Seneca Casino in Niagara Falls; it was on the front page of today’s Buffalo News and is entitled “Casino No Jackpot for Falls. My comment about it follows below…

I am opposed to casinos in Western New York. They generally breed more problems than they bring solutions.

That being said, I think this was a cynical and pessimistic article, typical of the type of journalism foisted on us by the Buffalo News. Regardless of my disdain for casinos, I am well aware that they draw crowds and bring opportunities. All you need to do is look across the river at Niagara Falls Canada.

Not so with Niagara Falls USA. The local government, the business community and the press cannot get their arms around the potential. They cannot get their ideas out of committee much less onto the ground.

At the very least the News could have focused on ideas that been tossed about because of the new revenue stream. They could have researched other regions, similar to ours, that also have new casinos to determine if and how those regions benefited (or suffered), and the timeline that it took for change to occur. They could have discussed if casino saturation is happening in the U.S. and how that might be affecting the Seneca Casino. Hell, they simply could have asked if the Canadian casinos are helping to draw visitors to our casino (and area) on the U.S. side of the border. Instead, they gave the upside potential what, a couple paragraphs?

Worse, the article begs the question (but does not answer): “What became of the $23 million this year – and the many millions of dollars in years past – that the casino has paid to the city? Don’t you think that if you suddenly had $75M or $100M of BRAND NEW REVENUE that you’d be able to show a little more for it than the convention center upgrade (much of which was paid for by New York State)? How come the News is up in arms over the Casino being “No Jackpot for Falls” but not about where all the money’s gone? They seemed pretty quick to blame the casino for the lack of development off the Seneca Nation property; isn’t that the city’s responsibility?

If I were a city planner and regardless of my position on casinos I would be embracing, not denigrating, the Seneca Casino. At every opportunity I would be talking to their management and asking “How can we do more with the area? What should we do first? What should we do next? What would draw in even more tourism? How can we remove stumbling blocks?” At every opportunity I’d be calling the News and telling them about the great things that the casino provides today and will provide in the future. I’d be playing up this golden goose as much as I possibly could because after all, if I can help make them immensely successful then at least I too reap some benefit. To do otherwise is cutting off my own nose.

Based on the article – and because of the lack of references I have no idea if the article is the truth – I would say that Niagara Falls USA has done little constructive planning and is already pointing at the Seneca casino as a cause of, rather than a solution to, its problems. The News is more than willing to sensationalize the downside of this because, well, because that’s what it does best.

Shame on both the City of Niagara Falls and the Buffalo News for allowing this article to appear in the form in which it appeared.

I apologize for the long-winded comment but I’m really pissed off about how our media continues to beat down on an already demoralized community, which merely feeds that cycle of “it’ll never work” pessimism. The casino is here. There is clearly so much opportunity to be gained, and we should be taking advantage of it at every turn.

5 Responses to About the Seneca Casino and the Buffalo News

  1. In Da Buff says:

    I am glad you posted this as a post…

  2. Becky says:

    Curious – $23 Mil is a fraction of the total take…So how much does Niagara Falls Canada bring in and does a much larger share go to develop the community, as opposed to supplementing the general fund? I don’t believe they split the proceeds as we must do in NY.

    I’m against casinos as a social miscue and especially giving over of the land to a sovereign nation, but I think NY should quit playing games with it’s constitution and legalize it, if that’s what people want (referendum).

    Should have written my own post…

  3. I’ll never quite understand the philosophy that it’s the casino’s “role” to spin off other development. The casino is it’s own business and it’s goal it to keep people there. It’s other people’s role to build something to compete with and attract people away from the casino. The government, which is receiving a share of the casino’s profits, needs to invest that money into the surrounding area to help make that happen.

    As the one person in the article said, “Most of the cars go directly into the casino, and they stay there, which I really can’t blame them because there’s nothing else for them to do in the area.”

  4. Jonathan Laraloi says:

    23 million is NOTHING.

    Albeit the seneca casino is a complete and utter dump, it is the public officials fault for not doing more with the area. They could do so much, but they do nothing.

    Honestly, the casino has not hurt the area. Most visitors are not local.

    The only problem I have with the place is their slow elimination of jobs. They have eliminated nearly half of the casino floor workforce, replacing them with ticket machines.

    They pay their workers HORRIBLE salaries. Oh well. Regardless our government is still very inept.

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