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A Henrietta casino could be closer to reality.

The Seneca Nation announced in a news release this afternoon that it has purchased 32 acres in the town of Henrietta as a “potential site” for a gaming casino.

It’s located at Clay Road near I-390 in the commercial district, about 30 miles from Batavia Downs.

“Now that we have acquired property, we will begin the process of engaging the community and its leaders in a dialogue on how a potential Seneca development could fit within and benefit Henrietta and the surrounding area," Seneca Gaming Corporation Board of Directors chairman, Kevin Seneca said.

Several Western New York municipalities have formally opposed a Henrietta casino. Officials say it would be detrimental to Batavia Downs as a public benefit corporation and the area.

Western Regional Off-Track Betting which owns Batavia Downs has filed an ethics complaint, alleging illegal lobbying activity between the Seneca Gaming Corporation and a Rochester developer.

The casino needs state and federal approval. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in Rochester  Feb. 20 that he has had no discussions about reopening the Seneca gaming compact.

UPDATE (3:38 p.m.)

Statement from Batavia Downs about the purchase:

“Today’s announcement by the Seneca Nation of a significant land purchase in Henrietta for a casino gaming facility should not come as a shock to anyone,” said Michael P. Nolan, Executive Vice President/COO of WROTB. “Despite the fact that the casino compact of 2002 specifically allows them to operate only three casinos in the region, the Senecas never had any intention of abiding by the terms of that agreement. This land purchase only reinforces that point. The compact also provides that they will not use any of the Seneca settlement act funds for another casino. The use of these funds for another casino shows another potential breach of the compact by the Senecas.”

“There is already significant opposition to the casino from residents of Henrietta, the business community, church and civic organizations, and a multitude of town boards and county legislative bodies throughout the region,” said Nolan. “Now that the Seneca’s’ intentions have taken a much more serious turn with the land purchase, I fully expect opposition to grow in terms of both numbers and intensity.”

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