Members of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors voiced their support Dec. 6 for the possible future addition of full casino gaming, including live table games and slot machines, at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack in Farmington.
The Ontario County Board of Supervisors gave a unanimous thumbs up to the possible addition in the future of full casino gaming, including live table games and slot machines, at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack in Farmington.
Members of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors voiced their support Dec. 6 for an upgrade in gaming at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack in Farmington. The resolution, adopted unanimously Thursday night, gives a thumbs up to the possible addition in the future of full casino gaming, including live table games and slot machines, at the Farmington facility. More importantly, it gives the county a leg up against adjacent counties that may also seek a full casino gaming license in the future.
Victor Supervisor Jack Marren serves on several boards and committees in both Ontario and Monroe counties. He and other Ontario County leaders would like to see the financial and work force gains stay close to home. With the resolution, their intentions are now on the record.
“I had heard rumor that there is interest from gaming commission officials in neighboring counties,” he said. “We’ve got to fight for what we have. We feel we have a site and space that could easily be transformed for full casino gaming. We’ve got parking, proximity to the thruway and state route 96, and room for expansion.
“If they go to some of these other areas they’ve identified, they’ve got to reinvent the wheel,” Marren said. “If they come to Ontario County, all the existing infrastructure is in place.”
The Board of Supervisors’ resolution cites the contribution of FLCR to the economic vitality of Ontario County, the Finger Lakes region, and the town of Farmington through the creation of jobs, capital investment, collection of taxes and direct reimbursements. It recommends that FLCR be authorized for full casino gaming under a proposed constitutional amendment that will continue to be considered by the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo in 2013.
Farmington Supervisor Ted Fafinski, also the Board of Supervisors chair, said the financial benefit goes primarily to Ontario County at this point in time.
“One of the destinations for tourism in Ontario County is Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack,” Fafinski said. “A single point of attraction leads to people visiting other attractions, (so) they sort play off each other. Sonnenberg Gardens is also a destination place.”
An economic impact study released earlier this year calculated the current economic impact of FLCR at nearly $46 million to Ontario County, and $120 million in total, with over 1,700 jobs supported directly or indirectly by operations. Since gaming began locally in 2004, more than $420 million has been generated through FLCR for education funding in New York State.
The addition of enhanced gaming, including table games and traditional slot machines, is projected to generate an additional $120 million through construction of an expanded facility and more than 790 construction-related jobs. Long term, more than 600 permanent jobs and $34 million in added economic impact to the region is expected annually.
“Finger Lakes does a ton of advertising out of our area,” Fafinski said. “Because of that kind of stuff, it brings people to the region, and where they go (while they’re here) — if they decide to partake in fine dining, or play some golf or do some shopping — it all works together.
If a constitutional amendment authorizing full casino gaming is passed by the State Legislature and Governor in 2013, approved by voters statewide in November 2013 and FLCR is awarded a license to operate such a facility, approximately $80 million in private investment would be put toward an expansion to create a complete tourism destination within Ontario County.
“We thank the Ontario County Board of Supervisors for their strong support of full casino gaming at Finger Lakes,” said Chris Riegle, president and general manager of FLCR. “An enhanced facility would only increase our contribution to the local economy by creating jobs and adding millions to local and state governments, including critical funding for education. We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and state Legislature to make this a reality.”
Upgrades are projected to include a new luxury 200-room hotel, two new restaurants, an events center, as well as an expansion of gaming space.
In October the Seneca County Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution urging the state Legislature and Governor to authorize full casino gaming at Batavia Downs in Genesee County, along with eight other racino facilities statewide. Seneca County is one of 13 municipal stockholders in Batavia Downs.
“In my opinion,” Marren said, “Ontario County would be a good location. We are already a tourist area with surrounding wineries, lakes, and a ski resort. Come on state (gaming commission) officials. This is the site — why are other sites in neighboring counties even being considered?”