Governor Cuomo is apparently making good on his proposal to create casinos upstate: Buffalo News reports that the Cuomo administration will formally introduce a plan to build a non-Indian casino in downtown Niagara Falls. Though not accessible by subway, fans of the Queens Racino should take comfort in that the thirteen hour round-trip bus ride will provide far more time to craft an impeccable alibi for your family that involves Rumspringa, a barrel, and a chance encounter with actor William H. Macy.
In his State of the State address, Cuomo said he envisioned three upstate casinos, but Buffalo News reports that number has jumped to four. According to an official in the administration, the governor thinks that “ending the Indian monopoly would be an economic benefit” to the state and the municipalities hosting the casinos.
Currently the state and the Seneca Nation are locked in a legal struggle over $500 million in disputed revenue-sharing payments, which the Seneca stopped paying several years ago after they felt the state violated the agreement by allowing for casinos in Hamburg and Batavia.
According to the report, "The amount of money the tribe owes to the state would, if paid today, wipe out more than one-third of New York State’s budget deficit for the 2013 fiscal year."
The Seneca are supposed to share 25% of their slot revenues with the state, but for non-Indian casinos that number could increase to 75%. The governor's plan is "likely" to be inserted into budget amendments that will be proposed in two weeks, and voters would still need to approve an amendment to the state constitution allowing the casinos.
Who might have a head start on developing such a casino in Niagara Falls?
Certainly, one possible player is Howard Milstein. He is the Manhattan billionaire banker who owns 80 acres of land in downtown Niagara Falls that have been sitting mostly idle. Milstein also is chairman of the state Thruway Authority, and he was appointed by Cuomo.