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City to Decide Whether or Not Casino Will be Developed Downtown

Casino interiorThe city of Rochester has received two proposals concerning the development of a parcel of land in midtown — one that includes a casino and one that promises jobs in exchange for keeping gambling out of downtown.

There are currently 1,511 casinos in the United States, and the Seneca Nation, along with developer Robert Morgan, has just proposed another one to be built in the heart of midtown Rochester.

The proposal includes a 3,000-seat performing arts center to go along with a gaming center. The gaming center, according to Democrat and Chronicle, would not be a “full-scale casino.”

Morgan claims the establishment would have “the potential to create thousands of good-paying, permanent jobs in downtown Rochester.” These jobs, according to Morgan, would go to citizens in the poorest areas of the city.

The proposal specifically states that the casino “will work with local workforce development agencies, such as the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center to create career-training programs in such fields as gaming and hospitality.”

The proposed casino would closely resemble Seneca Buffalo Creek, which opened in downtown Buffalo in 2013.

According to the Seneca Nation, the business from that casino has generated $33 million in revenue for the city of Buffalo, along with approximately 2,600 direct and indirect positions. The hope is that a Rochester casino would have the same kind of effect.

The second proposal also involves a performing arts center, and comes from developer Thomas Wilmot, who already owns the del Lago Resort & Casino now being built in Seneca County.

In the interest of crushing the competition, Wilmot has created an offer where Lago, Finger Lakes Raceway, and Batavia Off-Track Betting would agree to hire 400 full-time employees from the city of Rochester, as well as provide them with free transportation from downtown.

“This alternative proposal gets the city what it desires and needs without the dire economic consequences associated with the Seneca Nation proposal,” the Wilmot proposal reads.

Labor unions are urging the city not to work with the Seneca Nation due to concerns about their hiring practices. In addition, some churches have expressed a strong opposition to bringing gambling downtown.

There is no set time frame for the decision to be made, but no matter which proposal is chosen, there are bound to be angered citizens.