[UPDATED] Richards doesn't support downtown casino


Tom Richards. - FILE PHOTO

UPDATE: 4 p.m., January 10

In a phone conversation this afternoon, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards re-stated his opposition to a casino in downtown Rochester, and said he has not had any discussions with Cuomo about a Rochester-area casino. Given the legal issues with the Seneca Nation, who claim exclusive rights to Rochester for future casinos, Richards said he expects it will be several years, if not longer, for discussions of a Rochester-area casino to get serious.

Richards did say that the one place he could envision a casino in the downtown area is at Kodak's State Street campus. It's got the space and the parking, he said. (MCC plans to move to the Kodak site, against Richards' wishes.)


Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to establish three casinos Upstate — and that's just in the first phase — was one of the highlights in a State of the State speech yesterday loaded with marquee-worthy announcements on gun control, women’s equality, education, and other issues.

Casino-talk is nothing new to Rochester. People have long speculated about and/or advocated for a casino at Midtown, the Sibley building, or even at the former Medley Centre in Irondequoit.

Mayor Tom Richards has said in the past that the Rochester area will most likely get a casino, but that he doesn’t support putting one downtown because it sends the wrong message. Space is an issue, too, he said. Casinos make money by being part of big entertainment complexes, Richards said, and the money lost by gamblers subsidizes those other services.

It would be difficult for businesses that aren’t part of the casino complex to compete, Richards said, because they wouldn’t have that gambling money.

Locations aside, Cuomo’s advocacy of casinos as an economic-development tool is dubious. A 2009 Salon article says that the “gaming economy may be reaching its outer limits,” and that new casinos are cannibalizing revenue from existing operations.