Jun 29, 2001 8:12 PM

Ongoing legislative concerns continue to pose a threat to plans for three large-scale casinos in western New York.

The latest opposition came this week from state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, who said outstanding tribal land claims, along with taxation and employment-related issues, should be made part of the deal. Silver's comments came during a trip to the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, where the casinos will be built.

Earlier this month, Republican Gov. George Pataki reached an agreement with the Seneca Indian Nation to allow the tribe to open as many as three casinos in the region. The casinos would be the first in the state to offer Las Vegas-style slot machines.

The state Senate has approved the agreement.

Assembly members, however, are concerned about the tribe's claim to Grand Island, a community of 18,000. The fact that the land claim was not part of the deal has raised the ire of some lawmakers. There is also concern over the taxation of Indian businesses, which legislators also insist should be linked to a casino agreement. The Senecas have said these issues should be separate from the gaming talks.