The Seneca nation elected a new president and signed eight party members, who endorsed a 14-year pact with the state to bring Las Vegas-style casino gaming to Western New York.
“The people have clearly indicated what direction they want to go in,” said the tribe’s presidential candidate Rickey Armstrong, who defeated Seneca treasurer Arnold Cooper II 1,304 to 865 in election balloting last week.
Armstrong’s predecessor, Cyrus Schindler, signed the casino pact with Gov. George Pataki on Aug. 18 to bring casinos to the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area. The deal was approved last month by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The casinos could funnel as much as $3 billion to the Senecas, who have 6,700 enrolled members in Western New York.
Conn fights “Vegas East” tag
The leader of an anti-casino group in Fairfield outlined steps last week to fight new casinos in Connecticut.
“We’re at risk of becoming Las Vegas East,” said Jeff Benedict, president of the Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion. “We’re not going to do a whole lot about the two casinos we have, but my view is enough is enough.”
Benedict said that 12 groups in the state have petitioned the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to be recognized as tribes. Four have active plans to build casinos in the state.
Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun pay no state taxes, but give 25 percent of slot machine revenue to the state, amounting to about $400 million a year.