The Seneca Nation of Indians may soon add a fourth casino to its gambling operations.
Tribal officials announced Tuesday morning they reached a deal with David Flaum, president and CEO of the Rochester-based Flaum Management Co., to develop a casino in the town of Henrietta. The community is approximately 10 miles southeast of Rochester.
“The Seneca Nation is interested in looking for opportunities to grow and complement our gaming operations, consistent with our contractual restrictions under the (Seneca Gaming Corp.’s) current financing,” said Barry E. Snyder Sr., Seneca Nation president. “David Flaum and his team have a proven track record and we see this as a good fit.”
Mr. Flaum has been involved in other attempts to expand the Senecas’ gaming operations in New York. Toward the beginning of the last decade, he hoped to work with the tribe on developing a casino in both the Catskills and Niagara Falls.
“We are inspired by the commitment and vision the Seneca Nation and its leadership has demonstrated to create business partnerships both on territory and with stakeholders throughout the Western New York community to grow our region’s economy and create jobs,” Mr. Flaum said in a statement to the media regarding Tuesday’s announcement.
News of the planned expansion in Henrietta comes a little more than two months after the Senecas and state settled a bitter, years-long dispute over $630 million in slot-machine revenues generated at the tribe’s casinos in Salamanca, Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
As part of a deal reached with the tribe in June, the state reaffirmed the terms of the 2001 Gaming Compact, which granted Senecas exclusivity to all casino gaming in Western New York in exchange for the restoration of the revenue-sharing payments. Additional provisions of the deal gave the host communities of the tribe’s three casinos their portion of the slot-machine revenue withheld in escrow during the stalemate and allowed the state to continue operating gaming terminals at horse racing tracks in Hamburg, Batavia and The Finger Lakes.
In the midst of negotiations to end the dispute, rumors circulated in February that the Senecas floated a proposal to state authorities that would allow the tribe to build a casino in downtown Rochester. Neither state nor Seneca officials commented on the validity of the rumors.
Though Henrietta falls within the boundaries of the Senecas’ exclusivity zone for casino gaming, it is unclear what the next steps are for the potential gaming facility to become a reality. Under regulations set during President George W. Bush’s administration, Native American-owned casinos cannot be built off tribal lands. Complicating matters further are provisions in the Senecas’ gaming compact with New York that do not outright state that the tribe is permitted any more casinos in Western New York. Building the Henrietta casino would likely require approval by federal authorities as well as an amendment to the gaming compact.
(This story appeared in the Aug. 22, 2013 edition of The Salamanca Press.)