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As expected, the county files lawsuit over casino revenue split

Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte and State Sen. Antoine Thompson included language in the recently passed state budget that strips away a small slice of Seneca Niagara casino slots revenue from Niagara County and adds to the bounty of the City of Niagara Falls.

That hasn't set well with the County Legislature, which overwhelmingly passed a resolution at its Tuesday night meeting to file a lawsuit seeking not only to overturn the budget resolution but also to take a greater share of revenue away from New York state.

Who can blame county lawmakers? The county's slots share so far -- $976,892 -- is less than 2 percent of the $50 million of slots revenue that has flowed to the local community since the casino opened. That accounts for one-quarter of the slots revenue.

The state, meanwhile, gets the other three-quarters; about $150 million since the casino opened New Year's Eve 2002.

Falls and county politicians both say they need the small percentage the county has received. County officials say payments they have made to fund festivals and help local organizations -- sometimes in amounts as small as $1,000 -- go a long way for small groups. City officials say that money could become a dedicated revenue source for fixing streets in Niagara Falls that are riddled with potholes, a problem even Gov. David A. Paterson said is a priority when he was in Niagara Falls last month.

Both say they'd like to take a greater share of slots money from the state's share, too.

It ought to be interesting to see how this battle ends.


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