Last November, voters authorized new casinos to open in three regions: Capital, Catskills/Hudson Valley and the Eastern Southern Tier. No more than two facilities in any of the three regions, according to the commission site.
When he visited Binghamton the day after the bill passed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was encouraging about the effect on the Southern Tier. Standing in front of a sign that said “Funding for Schools ... Jobs for the Southern Tier,” the governor characterized the referendum as “Taking a risk. Working together. Believing in us.”
We believe a large casino in Broome, Tioga or other counties at the south-central end of New York will have a positive impact on our troubled economy.
What we can’t believe is that the state has chosen to define the “Eastern Southern Tier” as traveling north through Seneca County and Wayne County to the shores of Lake Ontario, as economic development reporter Jon Harris pointed out in last Sunday’s Star-Gazette. Those counties are officially defined by the state itself as being in the Finger Lakes Region. Never do they appear in the Southern Tier. Much farther and they’d be in Canada.
Rich and influential mall developer Wilmorite Inc. out of Rochester wants to build a $350 million casino resort in northern Seneca County. The impact of this casino on the (true) Southern Tier would be minimal. Jobs? We wouldn’t expect anyone to commute 90 minutes each way from Binghamton for a casino job.
On the other hand, at least three developers say they intend to apply for casino licenses in the (true) Southern Tier. Two are in Broome County and one is in Tioga County.
We don’t pretend to be the best judge of who should get casino licenses. The state has retained experts to make those choices. Maybe we will end up with two “Southern Tier” casinos — one in the Finger Lakes and one in the (true) Southern Tier.
But what we do know is that one of the (true) Southern Tier counties deserves to get a casino. If the only Southern Tier casino opens in a location like Tyre, in Seneca County, it certainly makes one wonder about what’s going on in Albany.
We’ve heard little from any of the (true) Southern Tier’s legislative delegation. Are you elected officials — chosen by (true) Southern Tier residents to represent them — outraged by this at all? Are you watching out for the (true) Southern Tier?
We certainly will be watching.