Buffalo Casino Opponents Go Busto in 2nd Circuit

     MANHATTAN (CN) – With a $40 million expansion slated to kick off next month, an Indian casino in upstate New York has hurtled a challenge in the Second Circuit.
     The Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino started as a slot-machine-only complex in 2007 but now includes 18 table games after completing a $130 million renovation last year.
     Another 10 table games plus hundreds more slot machines are now in store for the casino after the Seneca Nation of Indians announced plans late last month to kick off another expansion project. This $40 million project is slated to begin in October and run through 2017.
     Anti-gaming groups, legislators, and individual residents and owners of land in Buffalo have been fighting the casino with a lawsuit against the National Indian Gaming Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior since 2006.
     Three versions of this challenge have sputtered in the Western District of New York, and a three-judge panel with the Second Circuit upheld the latest dismissal Tuesday.
     The Seneca bought the parcel of land in Buffalo where they built the casino in 2005, and U.S. District Judge William Skretny found it eligible for class III gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
     Affirming Tuesday, Judge Christopher Droney wrote for a three-person panel that this decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious.
     “Congress intended the Buffalo parcel to be subject to tribal jurisdiction, as required for the land to be eligible for gaming,” Droney wrote.
     Droney also sided with a previous Tenth Circuit ruling that found that “Congress – not the courts, not the states, not the Indian tribes – gets to say what land is Indian country subject to federal jurisdiction.”
     Among those challenging the casino are Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County, the Network of Religious Communities, the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, and Preservation Coalition of Erie County.
     In addition to Buffalo Creek, New York is home to five other tribal casinos and three Indian-owned video-gaming facilities, most of them located in central and western parts of the state.
     More casinos for New York have been in the works since voters amended the state constitution in 2013 to allow Las Vegas-style gaming on non-Indian land.

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