On Friday a spokesman for the developers of a proposed $425 million non-Indian commercial casino in Tyre in Seneca County said that a “push poll” is being used by opponents of the project to spread “false and misleading information,” according to auburnpub.com.
Lago Resort & Casino spokesman Steve Greenberg provided a video which apparently shows a resident of Tyre answering questions regarding the project from someone who claims to work for “Mid-America Research.” A series of brief statements/questions ensues regarding the construction likely requiring more housing for out of town workers, and whether “government-subsidized, multi-level apartments” is supported or opposed. That exchange is followed by the caller’s suggestion that the casino will raise local property taxes to pay for long-term road construction work and government services. Before the call is wrapped up and upon being asked, the resident is told the call is from Mid-America Research and that further information can be located at midamerica.org, but the website doesn’t exist. A spokesman for the Oneida Indian nation, Michael McKeon, denied claims that the tribe is responsible for the propaganda poll.
While it’s not clear who paid for the poll, Greenberg places the blame on opponents of the casino. “These opponents — who apparently have money to burn — are making phone calls to Tyre residents to frighten them with dishonest claims that Lago will, among other things, cause property taxes to increase.” Greenberg added, “Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Lago will provide $3.8 million annually each to the town of Tyre and Seneca County to allow them to lower property taxes.”
Opponents of the casino include some local residents who feel that the casino will hurt the town’s rural character and impact the environment negatively. A “grass roots” organization that does not list its members on their website, Casino Free Tyre has filed lawsuits against the development with some temporary success.
Another opponent of the development is the Oneida Nation. The tribe contends that Lago would cannibalize revenue and jobs (video) from existing casinos, including the nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona. Last week the tribe launched a “public education” campaign intended to illuminate how the planned casino is not at all what Governor Andrew Cuomo had envisioned for gaming in Upstate New York. This week a second ad was released by the tribe, which takes aim at Wilmorite chairman, Thomas Wilmot Sr., one of Lago’s directors. In response, this week Lago released a TV ad of its own, which refutes the jobs claims made by the Oneidas.
In addition to its Verona casino, the tribe has a new casino in Chittenango, both are within 80 miles of the Lago casino. The tribe has exclusive rights to operate casinos in a ten county area which borders the Lago development. Casino proposals for Lago, along with projects in Schenectady and the Catskills were approved in December, 2014. Tioga Downs was chosen by the board for a 4th license nine days ago and held its groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.