As the cards get dealt for the casino development in the region, the deck has included plenty of jokers.
The latest wild card emerged from the hand held by the not-really-the-Southern Tier Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre. Construction on the $435 million palace of play halted July 10. A state appellate court panel found Tyre’s town board had failed to consider the project’s environmental impact.
There has been a foul smell about the Lago site since the first roll of the dice for a Southern Tier casino license.
The tortured map for where a Southern Tier casino might be located was stretched like taffy to include Seneca County. That area is 80 miles away from the region along the New York-Pennsylvania line, the actual Southern Tier. After Lago got the license, the plan has generated lawsuits and howls of protests from nearby competitors.
Lago would be competing with the just-opened Yellow Brick Road Casino in Madison County, Turning Stone Casino in Oneida County — both operated by the Oneida Indian Nation — and the Finger Lakes racetrack, which has video slot machines. Farther west is Batavia Downs and the three Seneca casinos in the Buffalo area.
All those competitors prompted the Seneca County board of supervisors this week to seek a 90-mile perimeter around the now-stalled Lago casino where no table gambling could be licensed by the state. The non-compete zone only adds to the smell about how the not-really-the-Southern Tier Lago won the region’s casino license.
The screech of brakes on the trucks and construction equipment at the Lago casino site has brought the dark smile of schadenfreude to many in the real Southern Tier that got snubbed for a full casino last year.
Lago was awarded one of three casino licenses in December, beating out bids from Tioga Downs racino and Traditions Resort in the Town of Union. Tioga Downs still has a chance to become a full casino license after the state gaming commission agreed to consider a fourth license.
With the Lago project now suspended, the Tioga Downs casino plan is looking more like a winning hand.