- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The Seneca Indian Nation has acquired 32 acres in a Rochester suburb as the potential site of a fourth western New York casino, the nation’s gambling division said Monday.

The Henrietta site is within an area of New York where, under an agreement with the state, the Senecas have exclusive rights to operate casinos.

Seneca Gaming Corp. officials said there are no specific plans yet for the Monroe County parcel, which is located in a commercial district, but believe it is ideal for a Seneca-operated casino and other amenities, including a hotel, restaurants and shops operated by local developers.

Gaming Corp. President and Chief Executive Cathy Walker said Seneca officials plan to meet with community and civic leaders for input.

“Our goal is to develop a project that fits and compliments the surrounding area,” she said by phone Monday after announcing the $2.7 million sale.

The western New York tribe operates casinos in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca under a 2002 compact with New York state that gives the nation exclusive casino rights in exchange for 25 percent of slot machine revenues, which the state shares with the host communities.

Because the compact allows for three casinos, the state would likely have to agree to amend the compact to allow a fourth. Walker said the Seneca Nation also may need federal approval for the project.

A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is moving forward with plans to allow up to seven non-tribal casinos in the state, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Walker said there is enough business to go around.

“The market in the Rochester region is underserved and there is sufficient market for all to do well,” she said.

But the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., which opposes any Seneca gambling expansion, said the region is “oversaturated” with casino gaming.

“Another facility will cause irreparable harm to thousands of businesses, families and municipalities,” chief operating officer Michael Nolan said. The corporation operates 31 OTB branches and Batavia Downs Gaming, a harness racetrack with video lottery terminals about midway between the Senecas’ Buffalo casino and the Henrietta site.

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