Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Anthony Masiello and other leaders are trumpeting our new casino agreement, but as a lifelong citizen of this area, I believe we need and deserve answers.
According to The News, the Seneca Nation will make about $4 billion in revenue over 14 years, while the state will receive $950 million. Even if half of all gambling dollars come from tourists, that still means area residents will gamble $2 billion to gain $950 million. Should we really be excited about that? Besides, won't tourists to Niagara Falls still be attracted to the Canadian casinos, where they get $1.50 on the dollar?
There is always the issue of creating jobs, but most casino jobs, with the exception of dealers, do not pay well. Hotels and parking garages, once constructed, do not offer well-paying jobs either.
The biggest question, of course, involves where the money will be spent. Will it be committed to infrastructure, cheaper power sources and reducing taxes in this area to help bring in business that will really aid Western New York? Or will it slip into the state general fund like the lottery revenue? How much better is Detroit since it opened a casino to combat Windsor? And did the gambling riverboats save Iowa as promised?
The last question has to do with our leadership. Is this the best we can do? Cleveland and Baltimore, two cities that have experienced revitalization, didn't need casinos. Why do we? One hundred years ago, Buffalo's leaders harnessed the Niagara River and brought the world an electric city - something that had never been seen before.
JOSEPH P. MARINELLI