Animosity Continues As Seneca Nation President Blasts ‘Shameless Greed’ Of Gov. Hochul, New York

Written By Mike Mazzeo on March 30, 2022

So much for moving on.

A day after sending $564 million in outstanding casino revenue payments to New York, Seneca Nation president Matthew Pagels blasted Gov. Kathy Hochul, as the animosity between the two sides only ratcheted up.

In a video statement (that was also sent via news release) posted on Facebook, Pagels said:

“In one breath, New York’s hostile and shameless greed was laid for the world to see.”

Seneca Nation not pleased with Gov. Hochul’s comments

Hochul said most of the money from the Senecas would go toward paying for the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium.

The tribe’s current gaming compact with the state expires in December 2023. But the state and the Seneca have endured a five-year legal battle over the agreement.

“Since the beginning of my administration, I have been committed to resolving this dispute and securing the funds that State and local governments are owed.” Hochul said in a statement. “The courts have consistently ruled in the State’s favor, yet no payments were made. Upon taking office, I sought to negotiate in good faith, and we have met every hurdle. I am pleased to have finally reached a resolution, and the full $564 million has been received by New York.”

Hochul’s comments prompted a fiery response by Pagels.

“Yesterday afternoon, shortly after the Seneca Nation confirmed resolution of our outstanding compact dispute with New York State, Gov. Kathy Hochul gladly declared that the state would use hundreds of millions of dollars for a new state-owned football stadium, all with no concern to the needs from across the state from wages and roads and so much more,” Pagels said.

“In one breath, New York’s hostile and shameless greed was laid for the world to see.”

Seneca president calls out Hochul’s relationship with Delaware North

Continuing his comments, Pagels said that Hochul “couldn’t contain her excitement to boast about her Seneca ransom money for a new stadium.” This after the state “intentionally and unnecessarily” froze various Seneca bank accounts that ultimately held “the Senecas and thousands of Western New Yorkers and families hostage for several days.”

Pagels added that this all likely came as welcome news to the governor’s husband. Bill Hochul serves as senior vice president and general counsel for Delaware North, the major food concessionaire at the Bills’ current stadium. According to a report from the New York Post, Delaware North and its employees could benefit from another 30 years of work at a new stadium.

A spokesperson for Gov. Hochul told the New York Post that she has a duty to “advocate and promote” the best interests of the state. The spokesperson also emphasized that Delaware North “is not a party” to the negotiations of a new stadium.

Delaware North also operates VLTs upstate

Pagels, though, also pointed out that Delaware North also operates video lottery terminals within the “supposed exclusivity zone” of Seneca Nation “with the state’s blessing.”

  • Hamburg Gaming, just south of Buffalo
  • Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack in Farmington, near Rochester

Delaware North has gaming in the area and caters to the new state-owned stadium, Pagels said. “And it’s being paid for on the backs of the Seneca Nation. Quite the sweetheart deal, huh.

“We see and we hope the world sees, the Governor’s announcement for what is the latest chapter in New York’s long history of mistreating and taking advantage of native people. Gov. Hochul happily tried to strangle Western New York and squeeze every penny she could get from the Seneca Nation. It’s not surprising to us that the Governor thinks her actions should be applauded as progress. That’s the Albany Way. The claims that a new day has dawned in Albany have turned into a stinking Groundhog’s Day. Just more of the same as it’s always been.

The Governor’s new stadium won’t be a product of progress. It’ll be a monument to Albany’s vindictive desire to punish the Seneca people. Ultimately, it’s something we’re all too familiar with.”

Office of Gov. Hochul responds to Seneca Nation

When reached by PlayNY, a spokesperson for Gov. Hochul emphasized New York’s efforts to resolve the state’s dispute with the Seneca Nation.

“Governor Hochul has worked to resolve this issue amicably since the beginning of her administration and receive the funds the State and local governments are owed,” the spokesperson said. “The courts have consistently ruled in the State’s favor, and the State has negotiated in good faith and met every hurdle.

“Time and again, the Nation failed to fulfill their court-ordered obligations. After the Nation once again failed to make payments under the terms of an amicable agreement, the State had to take action, and we are pleased to have finally secured these long-overdue funds for Western New York communities.”

According to a spokesperson for Hochul, after accounting for advanced payments from the state, portions of those funds will go toward host communities, broken down as follows:

  • Buffalo: $34,766,305
  • Niagara Falls: $38,940,440
  • Salamanca & Cattaraugus County: $16,360,419

Non-host county aid, according to the spokesperson, is divided among 15 counties, a total that comes to $56,484,661.

Photo by AP / Joshua Bessex
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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