Tyre Amish Community Opposes Planned Upstate New York Casino

Tyre Amish Community Opposes Planned Upstate New York Casino

09 Oct 2014 | 06:41 Author: King, George

A proposal to build a $1.5 billion casino in a small farming township in upstate New York, has been met with some of the most endearing opponents the State Gambling Commission has encountered so far as the Amish residents of Tyre have banded together with a few secular locals to oppose the building of the new casino.

Tyre is a small farming township located in Seneca County halfway between Syracuse and Rochester and comprises a total population of only 950 people. The busiest part of the town is the local truck stop and the closest thing to a residential area is a tiny collection of houses located alongside a nearby creek that feeds a marshy area on the northern shores of Cayuga Lake known as the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

The $1.5 billion Lago Resort and Casino project is just one of four possible projects planned by the state’s Gambling Commission who are looking for locations for new casinos to be placed in upstate New York and the planned location is near Exit 41 on the New York State Thruway.

The Amish residents of Tyre have used a primitive, yet extremely pragmatic approach when opposing the casino and have appeared silently in court and traveled to state hearings where they handed over a handwritten opposition to state officials. Their dogmatic approach, it appears, has been more convincing than those of many others who also oppose the location of the new casino.

Bishop Daniel Schwarz the senior member of the Amish families and the only vocal member of the Amish opposition, speaking to the New York Times said in a statement: “Gambling goes against the teachings of the Bible” and that “the fruits of gambling are all bad”.

The most prominent opposition of the planned Tyre casino, a group known as Casino Free Tyre, has even banded together with the Amish families and, some may say, exaggerated their presence and impact within community so as to prevent the new casino being built.

An avid supporter of the Lago Resort and Casino, Ronald McGreevy, has accused Casino Free Tyre with abusing the presence of the Amish families in Tyre, over inflating their influence within the community and using them as “sympathetic props” to drum up opposition, over exaggerating how the planned casino would threaten their way of life.

McGreevy has stated that the local Amish community only consists of 4 families in a population of 950, which would not suffer at the hands of an Amish mass exodus, which they have threatened to do, should a license to build the casino in the town be granted.

Even town leaders who want the jobs, tourism and municipal improvements a casino of this size could bring, are having no part in the Amish opposition.  The local town’s folk, the ones not opposed to the casino, feel that the Amish upping stakes and moving away would not do any harm to the community.

It would seem the town has been firmly split in two as pro casino activists and those against it, former friends and neighbors, no longer speak. The economic benefits are the driving force behind the pro casino groups quest for a casino whereas those against it make mentions of drug dealers, pawn shops and even houses of ill repute as the defining arguments not to allow a casino to be built near the small town.

So far, two court appearances as well as a state hearing have failed to prevent the casino construction and it will require drastic measures from the Amish community and their allies, the Casino Free Tyre group, to stall or completely stop the construction of the Lago Resort and Casino.


Research By: Helen Schmuul Jiménez
George King
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