Casino Construction Suspension
Now that the Senecas have suspended construction on both their embattled Buffalo Creek Casino and an expansion on their Salamanca site, the question is for how long and why.
Seneca Gaming Corporations (SGC) Public Relations Manager Philip Pantano says that the time frame is indefinite and the reason is based on a downturn in casino operations across the country, though he says the Seneca facilities have experienced growth of double-digit increases in the last two quarters.
The amount saved per day in halting construction on the projects totals a whopping $300k. Pantano assures us that in regard to the lawsuit against the Buffalo Creek Casino in which Judge William Skretny has directed the National Indian Gaming Corporation (NIGC) to shut down gambling at the Buffalo site, "The decision would have been made regardless of NIGC."
When asked if this was a pronouncement on the local economy, Pantano replied, " In building a project of this magnitude, we were not relying on the local economy. We have a national audience, and the state of the economy in the current market conditions show that continuing at this time would not be prudent. The interest rates are astronomical."
The SGC, having financed the first third of the $333 Million project, would be looking for outside financing on the completing two-thirds of the project, something Pantano said the SGC would be looking at options for in the near future.
"The investment community is looking favorably on our decision," Pantano said. "We're viewed as being very strong amongst our peers in the gaming community." He went on to explain that lay-offs and shelved projects are not uncommon at this juncture in the country's poor economic times.
"We're taking this proactive measure while we're still strong," Pantano said, pointing out that casinos across the country are struggling with the state of the economy and competing for a smaller pool of recreational dollars.
"There's a Boyd casino in Las Vegas that was halted $2 Billion into a $4.8 Billion project. Pinnacle Entertainment in Atlantic City has shelved construction on a project there, and the CEO is quoted as giving 50-50 odds on whether the project will happen," according to Pantano.
As for speculation that the suspension of these two regional projects was a direct result of the pending NIGC decision to deem gambling illegal at the Buffalo site, Pantano said it simply is not true. "We watch the economy closely," he said. "This decision was several weeks coming even though we continue to operate strongly."
The answer to how long the construction will be halted has not been determined, but will be related solely to the economy according to Pantano.