Opening a casino in Rochester requires the site to be turned over to the Seneca Nation and to become a sovereign territory. Porter said it would take only 60 days for a site to become sovereign land, which opens the possibility of building a casino under current state law.
“Rochester is a great opportunity for us. If its something that opens up for us that would be fantastic. We know it’s economically viable, the question is whether this is something the community wants to have,” Porter said at a hearing by the state Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee at the Ontario County Safety Training Facility.
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards said he is willing to discuss the logistics of a casino, but was also emphatic that before any “serious” discussions, the Seneca Nation needs to resolve a series of issues with state authorities, including the payment of $300 million in slot machine revenue. The Senecas quit paying its mandatory 25% slot machine revenues to the state after New York racinos were allowed to introduce the word casino in their corporate names.
The revenue share was a negotiated and approved by both parts in a 2002 compact between the state and the Senecas. In exchange, the Senecas received full exclusivity for all casinos on land west of Route 14, which runs along the western shore of Seneca Lake as well as all revenue generated from table games at their three casino: Seneca Niagara Casino, Seneca Gaming Salamanca and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino. The Senecas say the compact was violated when state gaming authorities allowed Finger Lakes Gaming and Batavia Downs racetracks to use the word “casino” in their names, and urged lawmakers to uphold the Senecas’ exclusivity rights.