Impact report says proposed Seneca County casino will cannibalize other regional gaming sites

Nov 7, 2014

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo pitched his idea of opening up to four casinos in New York state, his goal was to create jobs in upstate New York. But a proposed Seneca County casino is ruffling feathers about 70 miles away in Oneida County.

The Wilmorite Corporation is getting pushback on its planned Lago Resort and Casino, which the company wants to build in the town of Tyre. But according to a recent report released by Mohawk Valley EDGE, a business development organization in Oneida and Herkimer Counties, the casino would be a direct competitor with several gambling facilities, including Turning Stone Resort Casino and Vernon Downs, Tioga Downs and Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack.

"Based on the size of the facility and the lack of amenities, it would primarily draw from a 60 minute radius of the site," said Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steve DiMeo. "So, it essentially is cutting into existing market share and does not really provide any additive economic benefits."

The group's report alleges that counties receiving funds from last year's settlement with the Oneida Indian Nation, like Oneida, Madison and Onondaga Counties, would be hurt because Turning Stone's profits would go down.

"With the displacement factor, both Onondaga County and Oneida County are likely to see some diminishment in terms of their revenues," DiMeo said. "New York state would, as well. In fact, New York state is expected to see a substantial drop in terms of its share of gaming proceeds."

DiMeo says the impact caused by a loss of revenues wouldn't happen as much with two other proposed locations closer to Binghamton.

"I think those facilities are actually further away, are located closer to the state border," DiMeo said. "One of the hopes out of this legislation was that the state would be able to avert the leakage of gaming dollars leaving the state."

Other groups have expressed their concern with the project, including the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

Wilmorite refutes the claims. In a written statement, Board Chairman Tom Wilmot, Sr. calls Turning Stone a 20-year casino monopoly, and that Lago could bring in $130 million in new gaming revenue for the state. Wilmot called the study a "fraudulent report" and said the state's siting board should not be "swayed by the whining of those who have benefited from a monopoly." He also says his proposed casino will draw from a market far bigger than Turning Stone or other any of his competitors in the region.