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Senecas Want No Part Of Non-Tribal Casinos In New York

The Seneca Nation of Indians currently owns a monopoly on casino gambling in the state of New York, and they are hoping to keep it that way. In recent weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo has stepped up efforts to bring expanded casino gambling to the state to help with budget deficits, but the Senecas are under the impression that people only want tribal casinos in the state.

On Tuesday, the Senecas released the results of a poll in which 250 of the millions of people in New York participated. Of the 250, the Senecas claim that more than half want tribal owned, not corporate owned casinos. This is in direct contrast to what pro-gambling lawmakers have been asserting about casino resort expansion.

New Yorkers have traditionally set the trends for the rest of the US to follow. They, however, have lagged behind in the race to expand their gaming industry. In the Northeast alone, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania have all expanded their casino industry at a rapid rate over the past couple of years.

Governor Cuomo believes that opening up the industry to allow outside gaming companies will help bring millions of dollars into the state budget. Currently, the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls and Salamanca Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel are generating funds through a compact signed between the Senecas and the state.

The famed Aqueduct race track gained the right to operate a casino over a decade ago, but until earlier this year, the state had been unable to secure a developer to operate the casino. Outside of these facilities, New Yorkers have been forced to go to neighboring states to enjoy casino gambling.

If the state wants to add gambling off tribal reservations, it will have to be done through the legislative process, which will include several votes, both by lawmakers and New York residents. Despite the insistence of the Senecas that people want only tribal gaming, residents were not convinced that was the case.

"I don't care who operates the casinos, as long as there is one within driving distance of my apartment," said Heather Watson. "I have been going to Atlantic City for years, since I was old enough to gamble, and it would be great to have a casino in my area. It would save me a lot of travel since I go to the casinos at least twice a month."

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