In New York, the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo has reportedly stated that it may allow a new non-tribal gambling facility to open in downtown Niagara Falls in direct response to the current impasse surrounding the long-running revenue-sharing dispute with the casino-operating Seneca Nation of Indians.
According to a report from The Buffalo News newspaper, the Seneca Nation of Indians operates the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in Niagara Falls via its Seneca Gaming Corporation enterprise and claims that its 2002 gaming compact expired at the end of last year. As a result and in the absence of any new deal, the federally-recognized tribe believes that it now has the right to continue gaming operations without handing over one-quarter of its slot revenues to the state.
As such, the newspaper reported that July saw the Seneca Nation of Indians miss its first revenue-sharing payment since 2002, which means that the state could lose revenues that are shared between 16 localities across western New York worth up to $110 million a year.
“If they don’t fulfill their obligations to continue payments and to honor the compact, we are going to pursue putting an additional casino in Niagara Falls,” an unnamed member of the Cuomo administration reportedly told The Buffalo News. “We believe if they don’t pay, the compact is null and void. As a condition of that compact, they get exclusivity and if they don’t honor their end we’re going to explore how to put a casino in Niagara Falls.”
The newspaper reported that the Seneca Nation of Indians, which is additionally responsible for the state’s Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, countered by stating that the terms of its original gaming compact give it exclusivity in the Niagara Falls area until 2023. It also purportedly slammed the Democratic governor for “grandstanding” and for failing to meet with tribal leaders to discuss the situation.
“The Governor should spend his time trying to figure out how he will fulfill the state’s continued obligations under the compact to provide payments to the local governments rather than continuing to seek ways to discredit the Seneca Nation [of Indians],” Todd Gates, President for the Seneca Nation of Indians, told The Buffalo News.
Gates reportedly told the newspaper that Cuomo has so far shown a “blatant disregard” for the compact and the jobs his tribe’s casinos have created and revealed that he had yet to meet with the 59-year-old Governor to discuss the current impasse.
“The Governor has had five months to meet with President Gates, five months to articulate his position to President Gates and five months to engage in productive dialogue with President Gates,” Philip Pantano, spokesperson for the Seneca Nation of Indians, told The Buffalo News. “Instead, he has routinely chosen media statements and attacks. For the state, public insults, canceled meetings and threats seem to win out over productive dialogue.”
The newspaper reported that both sides have moreover yet to agree the formal process to take the disagreement to arbitration. It explained that such a route could take years to resolve and would likely end up in federal court.