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Casino project draws mixed opinions ADVERTISEMENT

Casino project draws mixed opinions

FINGER LAKES--With the recent state approval of three casino bids, one approved for the nearby town of Tyre has the potential to impact the areas around it. The Lago Casino, a $425 million project, broke ground Friday, Dec. 19 and will be located in Seneca County, but there are some different opinions as to what type of impact the casino will have on Yates and Schuyler Counties.
"Research shows that people who are attracted to a gaming facility largely stay within the bounds of that facility - meaning any visitors who are drawn to Lago are unlikely to travel outside the town of Tyre," Yates County Chamber of Commerce President Mike Linehan said. "Also, the impact of a casino operation on nearby communities is rarely positive -- take a look at Salamanca or Verona -- casinos in those towns have done nothing to increase the quality of life in their home communities and some could argue that the quality of life has slipped."
Linehan also said he does not believe the casino will be open as quickly as anticipated.
"I would really be surprised to see Lago open as quickly as the developer plans," Linehan said. "There will be the usual number of delays that are inherent with a development of this size. I also expect to see lawsuits filed against the state by the opposing groups and the counties that didn't get one. These lawsuits will slow the process. An example of how things get bogged down, it took 10 years for Destiny in Syracuse to get built after the announcement of the development was made."
Linehan said he is concerned the Cuomo administration is putting too much focus on gaming as an economic development tool, citing casinos closing in Atlantic City as indication of a gaming decline.
"Had all of the money that has been spent thus far on casino development been spent on true economic development projects we would already see benefit," Linehan said.
Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said while it is a controversial topic, there may be certain economic benefits of having the casino nearby.
"This is a controversial topic for the residents of Seneca County as there are those who support it and those who do not," Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said. "I am sure Yates County's economic development and tourism representatives will work to create a marketing link between the casino and our community attractions. Perhaps Yates County residents may be able to take advantage of job opportunities either at the casino or at other businesses that may be created as part of the economic impact of the casino."
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) Director Judy McKinney Cherry said the casino has the potential to have a positive impact upon Schuyler County if the developers are innovative enough.
"From the information I have gleaned regarding the business plans, the Lago plan has a greater potential to provide a sustainable impact on us," Cherry said. "In my experience, gaming revenues tend to peak and then wane over a period of time, so the stronger the aspects of business plan are -- the more sustainable the casino and related impact will be. The key is innovativeness and relevancy for the changing demographics that the casinos must face over time."

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