ALBANY -- Make that 10 casinos between Batavia and Albany.
The Oneida Nation said it plans to open its third casino in central New York next year, adding to an already crowded upstate gambling market.
The Oneidas, who own the sprawling Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, Oneida County, have been aggressive in their expansion after the state in 2014 approved a casino in Tyre, Seneca County, called del Lago, which opened in February.
Now some of the existing racetracks with video-lottery terminals want a lower tax rate from the state, saying the added competition may jeopardize their future.
Batavia Downs in western New York and Vernon Downs near the Turning Stone, are both seeking better deals from the state during budget negotiations, which are ongoing.
“We have been working diligently with state officials to create a stable plan for tax parity and are very hopeful this can be accomplished in the state budget,” Mike Nolan, the COO of Batavia Downs, said in a statement.
Batavia Downs is owned by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, which shares its profits with the 15 counties and two cities -- Buffalo and Rochester -- in which it operates.
So Batavia Downs says it wants a tax rate on par with other gambling facilities in the region. The tracks pay a portion of their revenue to the state.
"Having created new state casinos and a hyper sensitive business environment without leveling the playing field, potentially means job cuts here and additional loss for horseman through central and western New York," Batavia Downs said.
The competition is fierce upstate among its casinos.
Finger Lakes last year received a tax break because the $425 million del Lago was opening nearby, and last month the two facilities agreed to help pay to keep the horsemen whole because of the new competition.
The Oneidas in 2015 opened the Yellow Brick Road Casino closer to Syracuse, and the new Point Place Casino is to be built in Madison County, just on the edge of Onondaga County, where Syracuse is located.
The new casino will have about 500 slot machines and 20 table games and is set to open in spring 2018.
The casino, like the Oneidas' other two, is on tribal land, so it doesn't require state or federal approval.
The state in 2013 approved four upstate casinos, and three are already open: del Lago, Rivers in Schenectady and Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier, which switched from racino to a full casino with table games.
The fourth, Montreign in the Catskills, is set to open next year.
Assembly Racing Committee chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said he and lawmakers are reviewing the request from Batavia Downs and other racetracks. He said the opening of del Lago, in particular, has fueled tracks seeking lower tax rates from the state.
"I think that part of the state is becoming overly saturated with gambling facilities, and this was actually started by the inclusion of the del Lago casino in Tyre," Pretlow said.
"It’s caused a lot of issues in that area."
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