Rumors about Potential Casino in Rochester Raise Concerns about Finger Lakes Racetrack’s Future

Rumors about Potential Casino in Rochester Raise Concerns about Finger Lakes Racetrack's FutureSpeculations about a possible casino in Rochester concern lawmakers, who worry about the future of the major employer in the area – Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack in Farmington. Yesterday, state Senator Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Campbell, Farmington Supervisor Peter Ingalsbe, and Ontario County Economic Director Ryan Davis issued a joint statement, urging lawmakers and the governor to postpone negotiations for a casino in downtown Rochester as part of a new gaming compact for the Senecas.

Campbell, the West Bloomfield town’s supervisor, also said that state officials and the governor must discuss the proposed casino expansion with the residents of all affected communities and ensure they understand the negative effects of having a gambling venue in the area.

It has long been a goal of the Senecas to expand into Western New York by opening a casino in Rochester and Monroe County. According to some officials, the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Hochul administration have secretly been negotiating plans for a casino in downtown Rochester as part of a new tribal gaming compact.

But the potential gambling venue would be very close to Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack located in Ontario County. Hence, some Ontario County officials are worried about the Finger Lakes racetrack’s future. The racetrack employs over 1,500 people, making it the biggest employer in the area.

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack is an Important Economic Driver for Rochester City

On Monday, Steve Martin, senior director of marketing for Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, issued a statement, in which he noted that the racetrack’s operations are vital for the economic stability of the Rochester region. Besides, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack supports the city’s agricultural and equine economies.

According to Martin’s statement, video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming venues generate a lot more revenue for the state than Seneca casinos, so the state would lose tens of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs in the region if it allows the Senecas to build a casino in Rochester. Martin called on the state Assembly to block Seneca’s casino plans. Ontario County officials shared Martin’s opinion, explaining that a potential casino in Rochester would harm Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack’s viability.

The Ontario County Economic Development Corp. and the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency are also worried about the effect of the potential casino on Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack. Ontario County Economic Director Ryan Davis said that such a significant change must be carefully considered and called on New York lawmakers to take into account the opinions of people who live in Rochester.

Farmington Supervisor Peter Ingalsbe said that revenues generated from video lottery terminals allowed the town to keep taxes low and fund capital projects, such as a highway garage, justice building, and a 40-acre park. Ingalsbe added that Lakes Gaming & Racetrack’s main customer base comes from the nearby Rochester area, and a casino in the area would certainly impact foot traffic to the racetrack.

Senator Pam Helming said that Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack plays an important role in the city’s economic development as it supports local non-profit organizations and small businesses, and creates well-paid jobs for over a thousand residents. Helming added that taxpayers, counties, and c municipalities must have the right to voice their opinions on the matter. Ontario County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and CEO Ethan Fogg also issued a statement, stressing the importance of examining the effects of a casino on the workforce and local economy.