The Seneca Nation of Indians and the state of New York are progressing in negotiations for a new gaming compact to come at the end of 2023.
The active gaming compact between the two parties will expire in December 2023, and it gives Seneca Nation exclusive rights to operate Class III NY casinos in the western part of the state. That type of gaming license allows Seneca Nation casinos to offer table games, slot machines and sports betting.
Seneca Nation president Rickey Armstrong Sr. told the Niagara Gazette that talks with the state about an updated compact are advancing.
“We’ve made every effort to make progress. We want to continue to work toward a new gaming compact that reflects the gaming landscape in Buffalo, Niagara Falls.”
Armstrong added that Seneca Nation has been crafting its portion of the agreement for around two years. He feels confident the group has “covered all of our bases.”
New NY gaming compact benefits state, not just Seneca Nation
Armstrong argued that Seneca Gaming Corp.’s three local casinos have aided New York in more ways than one. Those properties include: Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino.
Armstrong said the casinos have given a boost to the economies in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca. This includes employment opportunities, and branch off investments from companies with local vendors.
The current compact between Seneca Nation and the Empire State also gives a portion of casino revenue back to each host city. 25% of each gaming venue’s revenue from slot machines goes back to each city.
Armstrong told the Niagara Gazette:
“I’m hopeful that the state recognizes the impact we’ve had on Western New York.”
Gov. Hochul believes negotiations trending positively
A spokesperson for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said the executive chamber and the New York State Gaming Commission have been engaged in “substantive negotiations” with Seneca Nation for months, according to the Niagara Gazette.
The spokesperson said:
“We are fully committed to continuing to meet, discuss, and negotiate a compact, and we are confident that the process will continue in a way that best serves New Yorkers.”
Tension-filled past between Seneca Nation, New York
While talks between Seneca Nation and the state look optimistic for a new compact, the parties have feuded in the past.
After 2017, the tribe withheld revenue-sharing payments to New York. Seneca Nation claimed once the first 14 years of the last gaming compact ended, the payment term also came to a close.
In 2021, a federal appeals court ruled Seneca Nation owed the state $435 million. Early in 2022, Hochul announced the state reached an agreement with Seneca Nation. This forced the tribe to pay $564 million in outstanding casino revenue payments.
During negotiations, then-Seneca Nation president Matthew Pagels said the state froze the tribe’s bank accounts, which held “the Senecas and thousands of Western New Yorkers and families hostage for several days.”
Pagels also commented that many casino employees had no access to healthcare and prescription medicine during that time. Hochul then said the state’s share of the funds would go toward a new Buffalo Bills stadium.
This rubbed the Senecas the wrong way. And Pagels made sure to let everyone know:
“The governor’s new stadium won’t be a product of progress. It will be a monument to Albany’s vindictive desire to punish the Seneca people.”