Tonawanda News

Local News

August 16, 2013

Casino cash expected soon

Tonawanda News — The casino revenues are on their way.

City officials told the Niagara Gazette that a payment of $87.9 million from the state was listed as pending in the vendor portal, a website that allows cities to track payments from the state of New York. As a result, city officials said the money should arrive in a city account within a few business days.

Niagara Falls Controller Maria Brown said she has been checking the site every day - if not every few hours - since Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the Falls on July 31 to attend a check-passing press event held at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel.

“I am so thankful the money is here,” Brown said.

City officials - particularly in Brown’s office - were pushed to the brink by the four-year dispute between the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The Senecas stopped making casino revenue payments to the state in 2009 as it had under the terms of a gaming compact signed in 2002. They contended the state violated the compact by placing gaming machines in race tracks and marketing so-called “racinos” as casinos within the Western New York exclusivity zone outlined in the agreement.

As a result, the state stopped paying the host communities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca.

The host cities all received a “good faith” payment of $1 million on Aug. 3, but have been waiting on the rest of the money since, Brown said.

Once the full amount arrives, Mayor Paul Dyster has said his administration plans to repay money the city borrowed from its own accounts and pass money through to other entities - including Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and the Niagara Falls School District - that receive casino revenues under the gaming agreement.

Brown said after all repayments are issued the city will have about $25 million left, which will be used to return to the five-year capital plan from Dyster’s administration.

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