ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Wednesday, members of the Rochester Majority Delegation — including Senator Jeremy Cooney — met with representatives from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office. The delegation asked for the sitdown on the Rochester ‘casino chatter.’ 

“This was not a meeting that had taken place previously,” said Senator Cooney.

Cooney and others wanted to know why casino talks between Hochul’s office and the Seneca Nation were being done with no leaders from our area. 

“What happened here and how did we get to this point? I think overall it was a good opportunity for us to ask lots of questions,” he said.

Questions like, ‘Where would the casino be?’ ‘what’s the timeline for this?’ Also, “What’s the potential opportunity for investment in our community? What are the pitfalls and what are the dangers?” Cooney asked.

Those details Cooney said can’t be answered due to a non-disclosure agreement between the governor’s office and the Seneca Nation.

Cooney voted ‘no’ on granting Hochul the power to negotiate without getting approval from lawmakers. He wants lawmakers to have oversight. “I would like to have seen more involvement of our local government partners,” he said.

There’s been none of that prior to Wednesday. Assemblymember Harry Bronson released a statement after the meeting:

“Today, the Greater Rochester Majority Delegation met with representatives from the Governor’s office to discuss the Seneca Nation’s gaming compact renewal and proposed placement of a casino in Rochester. The Delegation is conducting full due diligence on this matter and is having conversations with all concerned parties, including local stakeholders, the County Executive, the Mayor’s office, and other government partners. We are particularly concerned about how this could affect the families we represent. We feel very strongly that any potential agreement between the State and the Seneca Nation must be made with full transparency of all relevant information, and include the input of our community. More information is expected from the Governor’s office.”

Cooney is also concerned about what this would do to other venues. “(If) we’re talking about Del Lago to our east, or Batavia Downs to our west,” or Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack in Farmington.

Cooney said this casino is only ‘a conceptual agreement’ right now between the governor and the Senecas. He told those opposed to this — or those who might support it– hang on. 

“Again, nothing is finalized and I think that’s important for your viewers to know,” he said.

Cooney said the governor’s office and the Seneca Nation need to come to an agreement and then the legislature needs to ratify that compact agreement. The Assembly will potentially take this bill up next week.