No Seneca Nation Gaming Compact ‘A Failure’ Of New York Governor’s Office

Written By Grant Lucas on November 29, 2023
sen. george borrello in front of seneca allegany casino in new york

Sen. George Borrello appears at his wit’s end with officials in New York.

The gaming compact with the Seneca Nation of Indians expires on Dec. 9. And it doesn’t seem as if a renewed agreement is any closer.

Borrello didn’t mince words in voicing his displeasure, calling it “a failure of the governor’s office and her team to not negotiate in a timely manner.

“There have been just many broken promises, agreements in principle where the governor backed out. It’s just that the governor’s team has not been negotiating in good faith. And we’ve been trying to bring light to the fact that they need to come to the table in good faith.”

For NY casino compact, state should ‘fix it immediately’

It has been well-documented of the timeline facing the Seneca Nation and the state of New York to come to terms on a new gaming compact.

Earlier this year, it appeared as if both sides reached a new deal. However, the agreement fell apart shortly thereafter when lawmakers in the Rochester area discovered problematic legislative language to develop a casino in the city.

For Borrello, he said earlier this month, remains a “priority for me.”

But it doesn’t not seem like the rest of the state shares a similar mindset. Despite the fact that the Seneca Nation will not have to pay the state any funds once the existing contract expires.

“It really behooves the governor,” Borrello told The Batavian, “to fix it immediately.”

Borrello: New York ‘pulled the rug out’ from underneath Seneca

The state of New York and the Seneca originally signed a gaming compact in 2002. Since then, Borrello told The Batavian, the state has “changed the rules of the game and pulled the rug out from underneath the Seneca Nation when they created three state-run casinos.”

On top of that, the Empire State features a nation-leading industry in NY sports betting. Such expansion – which could include the legalization of online casinos in New York in 2024 – has “saturated the market,” Borrello said, “and that has had a negative impact on revenue. So, I don’t think the previous contract is fair in light of the new situation.”

The original compact calls for the Seneca Nation, which operates three upstate casinos, to pay 25% of revenue from slot machines and other games to the state in exchange for the right to offer casino gaming. The since-squashed agreement from earlier this year required the tribe to pay a 19.5% rate on revenue, if a Rochester casino was included. Without that new property, it’s reported that the Seneca Nation is seeking a lower rate.

If New York state officials and the Seneca come to terms on a new compact, it still faces a few hurdles before it becomes ratified. Seneca Nation citizens must approve the agreement by a referendum vote. Then, the US Department of Interior must sign off on the deal. Finally, the State Legislature must pass a bill authorizing Gov. Kathy Hochul to enter into a new agreement.

Regardless, as Borrello has emphasized, this deal should be a top priority for everyone.

“Seneca Nation members and businesses are a significant part of our lives and culture, and I am proud to represent them in the State Senate. Their world-class gaming facilities and resorts are an important part of the hospitality and tourism economy of Western New York. The people of the Seneca Nation deserve a fair and equitable compact.”

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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