In New York, a three-member arbitration panel has reportedly ruled by a two-to-one margin that the casino-operating Seneca Nation of Indians must resume handing over one-quarter of its slot revenues to the state.
According to a Tuesday report from NewYorkUpstate.com (NYup), the federally-recognized tribe operates the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in the city of Niagara Falls via its Seneca Gaming Corporation enterprise and bequeathed its last revenue-sharing payment to the state in March of 2017.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is additionally responsible for the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo as well as Salamanca’s Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino and had argued that its 14-year gaming compact with the state had concluded at the end of 2016, which controversially meant that it was no longer required to make the payments totaling approximately $100 million a year.
However, NYup reported that the state had countered via an official action initiated through New York Governor Andrew Cuomo by claiming that the original 2002 compact had been automatically renewed three years ago to keep the tribe on the hook for these payments through to the end of 2023.
Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to Cuomo, told the NY site that he was ‘thankful’ for the arbitration panel’s ruling as the cash received from the Seneca Nation of Indians is shared out between authorities in 16 western New York counties. He purportedly detailed that the ongoing absence of these funds had forced state officials to directly compensate Niagara Falls in September to the tune of $12.3 million.
Azzopardi to NYup…
“It was clear to us that the Seneca Nation of Indians had an obligation to continue payments, period. According to the compact, this arbitration process was prescribed to resolve conflicts and now that it has concluded, we ask that the Seneca Nation of Indians cease any further delays, make the state and local communities whole and resume payments.”
The source further reported that the Seneca Nation of Indians is one of the largest employers in western New York thanks to its stable of over 4,000 workers while the tribe’s compact payments between 2002 and 2016 had enriched the state by in excess of $1 billion.
Rickey Armstrong, President for the Seneca Nation of Indians, reportedly told the site that the tribe now intends to ‘take the appropriate time to review and respond to the opinion and move forward’ and did not rule out the likelihood that an appeal would be forthcoming.
According to Armstrong…
“We continue to believe, as anyone who has read the compact, that the Seneca Nation of Indians’ compact payment obligation was fulfilled and we believe we had an obligation to the Seneca Nation of Indians’ people to defend the compact as it was written and agreed upon. None of that changes with this arbitration opinion.”