GUEST APPEARANCE: Lago will be shot in arm
Posted on February 2nd, 2016
Finger Lakes Times
I could not be happier that two weeks ago, the New York State Gaming Commission finally issued a license for the Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre. It’s about time! Now, the limited construction we’ve seen at the Lago site can heat up and start to go full bore, as we look forward to a grand opening sometime in 2017.
We all know the benefits of Lago for our region. We’ve heard these facts before but they bear repeating. Construction at Lago will create 1,800 jobs and then once opened, Lago will create 1,800 permanent jobs. The construction and permanent jobs will largely be for residents of Seneca County and the Finger Lakes region. And as everyone in Seneca County knows, we desperately need those jobs.
Lago will also greatly increase the number of tourists coming to our county and region. That’s great news for my business and for hundreds of other businesses in our county — vineyards, restaurants, breweries, hotels, shops, etc. Lago will be encouraging its visitors to explore the Finger Lakes region and has already established cooperative arrangements with more than 100 local businesses.
There is no doubt that Lago will help bring an economic resurgence to the region. That’s why Lago is overwhelmingly supported by the people of Tyre and Seneca County. Now, to be fair, there remain a few Lago opponents. I certainly respect those Tyre and Seneca County residents who are opposed to Lago, and I hope over time that they will change their minds and become Lago supporters.
I have no respect, however, for the naysayers who are simply protecting their existing gaming monopolies. Naysayers from outside of Seneca County — to our east and our west — whose only mission, it seems, is to spread misinformation and outright lies in their effort to protect their selfish interests at the expense of the people of Seneca County.
To the east, the Oneida Indian Nation — which has enjoyed a two-decade casino monopoly at Turning Stone — says that the decision to allow Lago (through a fair and independent process) is unfair. Really?
Lago is 70 miles from Turning Stone. Lago is in Seneca County, which is not part of the 10-county exclusivity zone that the OIN drew for itself to preserve its monopoly and has never received a dime from the OIN, unlike the counties that are in that zone. Additionally, since Lago was selected to receive one of the four Upstate casino licenses, the OIN has opened a new casino in Chittenango, which is even closer to Seneca County. The OIN claims Lago is unfair? Really?
To the west, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, owned by Buffalo-based conglomerate Delaware North, makes several outrageous claims. First, Delaware North is claiming that it will need to reduce the number of racing days in 2016 because of Lago. Really? Lago won’t open until 2017.
Delaware North also claims that Lago will get half of its gaming revenue from Finger Lakes Gaming (similarly, the OIN claims that Lago will get half its gaming revenue from Turning Stone). Blatantly untrue, and they know it. The fact is — and Lago has made this publicly clear for more than a year and a half — that about half of Lago’s first-year gaming revenue will come from all existing gaming facilities in New York. However, that also means that the other half of Lago’s first-year gaming revenue will be “new” money for any New York gaming facility, money that FLGRT or Turning Stone can compete with Lago to obtain.
Finally, Delaware North — which has made more than $200 million in profits at Finger Lakes Gaming while making no substantial capital investment in the facility — claims that it pays a 79 percent gaming tax on its video lottery terminals (VLTs), far more than Lago will be paying. Again, a blatant misstatement. Delaware North pays no gaming tax; rather, Finger Lakes Gaming is paid a 21 percent operators fee on each VLT is has on its property. New York state — not Finger Lakes — owns the VLTs and Finger Lakes Gaming makes no investment in the machines, unlike the investment Lago and the other new casino will make in purchasing slot machines and other gaming equipment.
It is abundantly clear that Lago Resort & Casino — with the unanimous support of the Tyre Town Board, Seneca County Board of Supervisors, Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, New York State Facility Location Board, and the New York State Gaming Commission — is the right facility in the right location at the right time. Lago will create jobs, increase tourism, and build a real economic future for Seneca County and the entire Finger Lakes Region.
Gene Pierce is the owner of Knapp Winery & Restaurant on Cayuga Lake, Glenora Wine Cellars & The Inn at Glenora on the west side of Seneca Lake, and Chateau LaFayette Reneau Winery & Inn on the east side of Seneca Lake.