MAYVILLE The county is gambling on a motion which, if approved, could mean more money into the general fund.
On Wednesday, the Planning and Economic Development Committee will be looking at a motion at the request of Legislative Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville. The motion is in support of full casino gaming at the nine existing racinos in New York state.
"(The motion) is to support Batavia (Downs Casino), which is a casino and a horse track. Chautauqua County owns part of that," Gould told the OBSERVERl. "The western counties and the two cities Buffalo, Rochester all own part of that. When the governor gives permission to have more full-fledged casinos, Batavia would like to be one of them."
According to the motion, in September 1973, 11 Western New York counties and two cities established the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation. Chautauqua was one of the counties included. The start-up costs of the corporation were funded by the 11 counties and two cities, from either treasuries or taxpayer money. No state money or state sharing was involved.
Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature are considering a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling in New York.
"If it becomes a full-fledged casino, we would get more money for the county," Gould said. "It goes right in the general fund."
The motion states that Batavia Downs Casino has proven to be a successful Public Benefit Corporation to Chautauqua County, returning more than $8.2 million since its inception. Further, the motion states that with enhanced casino gaming allowed, it will provide more than $86 million in capital construction spending, resulting in 552 direct construction jobs. Additionally, it states the first full year of operation will result in more than 449 jobs and an output of more than $20.5 million.
According to Gould, there have been problems with the amendment in the past, especially with the Seneca Nation. However, he said last year, Chautauqua County received around $400,000 out of the Batavia Downs Casino. And, this isn't the first time the County Legislature has seen this motion.
"I brought the motion up last fall, and it didn't get enough signatures to get on the floor at the regular legislation meeting. So, I had the vice president of Batavia come out and talk to the Economic Development Committee," Gould said. "I would like to see it continue along."
Even if the motion is not approved during Wednesday's meeting, it will still be presented at the legislature meeting later this month. Gould said he will sign it through regardless of Wednesday's outcome.
The Planning and Economic Development Committee will meet Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Room 331 of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.