The casino-operating Seneca Nation of Indians has reportedly asked the federal government via the United States Department of the Interior to intervene in its long-running revenue-sharing disagreement with the state of New York.
According to a Wednesday report from local television broadcaster, WKBW-TV, the tribe has called on the federal department to review an amendment an arbitration panel recently inserted into its gaming compact with the state. The Seneca Nation of Indians purportedly believes that this new revision violates its rights under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and should be tossed out.
The federally-recognized Seneca Nation of Indians runs the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in the city of Niagara Falls via its Seneca Gaming Corporation enterprise and reportedly inked a deal in 2002 that saw it granted the right to operate such venues in exchange for agreeing to hand over 25% of its gaming revenues to the state. However, the tribe bequeathed its last payment in March of 2017 after controversially arguing that the revenue-sharing portion of this compact had been fulfilled after 14 years.
WKBW-TV reported that the tribe, which is additionally responsible for the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo as well as Salamanca’s Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino, subsequently agreed to take the entire matter to arbitration in hopes of finding a solution that was acceptable to both itself and the state.
But, the broadcaster reported that a special arbitration panel established to find a resolution to the matter later confounded the tribe by inserting an amendment into its existing compact with New York that mandated it continue making these revenue-sharing payments, which could potentially be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, until 2023.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is now reportedly seeking federal help because it believes that the IGRA mandates that such an amendment can only be inserted into a tribal-state gaming compact after being approved by the United States Department of the Interior. As this did not happen, the tribe is purportedly asking for an official review to void the contentious change.
Rickey Armstrong (pictured), President for the Seneca Nation of Indians, reportedly told WKBD-TV, that the amendment had been inserted into his tribe’s gaming compact with New York ‘without regard for federal law’ or the procedures governing ‘both the compact and the amendment process.’ He moreover declared that allowing such a modification to stand ‘would undermine’ the trust sovereign nations such as the Seneca Tribe of Indians have placed in the federal government.
Armstrong told WKBD-TV…
“The Seneca Nation [of Indians] and the Seneca people deserve to have our agreements with other governments honored and protected despite repeated and ongoing attempts to ignore, violate and, in this case, blatantly change the agreements we have made. By exercising our right to request that the [United States] Department [of the Interior] review the amendment, the nation’s leadership is fulfilling our obligation to the Seneca people to always defend our sovereignty and the sanctity of our agreements.”