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Leaders in Ontario County worried about state gaming deal: Rochester casino could impact 1,000 jobs at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack

  • / Updated:
  • Josh Durso 

Following the report earlier this week that the state could be negotiating a deal behind closed doors to bring a Seneca Nation casino to the Rochester-area several local stakeholders have spoken out in opposition.

First, representatives from Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack spoke out against it, alongside State Sen. Pam Helming, who represents Ontario County.

Helming said that not only would a Rochester-based casino impact Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, but also del Lago Resort & Casino, located in Tyre. She pointed to indirect impacts of a casino in Rochester, too.

Now, more leaders from the Ontario County are weighing in on the matter- calling for more local input if the state and Seneca Nation are serious about a Rochester casino.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

“We call on the Governor, Senate and Assembly to delay any further action on the proposed gaming compact and fully engage all affected local communities to ensure that any unintended negative consequences of this proposal are fully understood and accounted for before moving forward,” Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Campbell said in a statement.

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack has been in operation there since 1962. It’s a major employer and important part of the economy, officials say.

“Ontario County has had a long partnership with Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and they continue to be an important local employer, community partner and regional economic driver. The Ontario County Economic Development Corporation (OCEDC) and the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) share Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack’s concerns of the potential creation of another gaming facility in our region,” Ryan Davis, Executive Director of Ontario County Economic Development said. “Furthermore, the OCEDC and OCIDA are proud of their long record of regional collaboration and welcome the opportunity to share these concerns. A change of this magnitude deserves careful consideration, regional input and cooperation. We echo the sentiments of our regional partners and urge New York State to allow for thoughtful input from all of us who call the Rochester region our home.”

Davis said during the Ontario County Economic Development Corporation (OCEDC) meeting held on June 13, and after individual conversations with members of the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA), both Boards expressed their collective concern over a potential gaming facility in Rochester.

County officials also stressed that a potential casino in Rochester could pose a significant risk to the future viability of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and the crucial role it plays in Ontario County.

“Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack employs 1,000 people, mostly union jobs. We use our VLT revenues to keep our town taxes low and to fund capital projects like our highway garage, Town Justices building and a new 40-acre park,” Farmington Supervisor Peter Ingalsbe added. “Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack is the closest to Rochester and relies on customers from the Rochester area. It would inevitably suffer by having another casino in the Rochester area.”

Helming echoed sentiment shared earlier this week, noting that she hopes Governor Kathy Hochul does the right thing and engages the community before any further progress in a potential gaming compact that includes a Seneca Nation casino in Rochester.

“I urge the Governor’s office to do the right thing and ensure that any discussion of a potential casino in the Rochester area include the input of local officials and stakeholders in Ontario County and the Finger Lakes region,” she said. “A decision of this magnitude must consider the broad impacts to local employers, our workforce, and our economy as a whole. Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack contributes significantly to Ontario County and our region, through jobs, opportunities for our farmers and small businesses, and through tax dollars that support local nonprofits and make critical investments possible in our local communities. Counties, municipalities and taxpayers deserve to have their voices heard in this process.”