- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The Oneida Indian Nation has asked the state Gaming Commission to deny an upstate New York casino developer’s application for a license, in part because the competition would cannibalize business from the tribe’s popular casino.

Williams and Connolly, the Washington, D.C., law firm representing the Oneidas, sent a letter Wednesday to the commission challenging the selection of a site in the Finger Lakes region for the Lago Resort & Casino. The property just off the Thruway in Seneca County is 65 miles west of the Oneida’s thriving Turning Stone casino.

The Oneidas’ letter to Gaming Commissioner Mark Gearan said Lago’s developers, Rochester-based Wilmorite, didn’t meet the selection criteria and failed to submit required information for the review process, including independent environmental studies.

Lago’s spokesman, Steve Greenberg, said Thursday he had no comment on the tribe’s letter.

The Seneca County location was one of three upstate sites selected in December by the state’s siting board for new Las Vegas-style casinos in upstate New York. The other two will be built in the Catskills in Sullivan County and the city of Schenectady. Last month, the state reopened bidding for a fourth casino, to be located in the Southern Tier.

The Oneidas said approving a casino license for the Lago project “will place the economic health of Turning Stone at grave risk.” The $425 million Lago resort planned for a site off Exit 41 in the town of Tyre would be just a short drive from Syracuse, Turning Stone’s largest market, the tribe said.

The siting board rejected casino applications for Orange County over concerns they would cannibalize existing racino operations downstate or adversely impact a future casino selected for neighboring Sullivan County. The Oneidas said the board didn’t apply the same standards when selecting a casino for the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region.

A lawsuit filed last month by the Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack, 25 miles west of Tyre, also claimed the Lago casino would siphon off revenues to the detriment of an established business.

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