Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State have found a short-term resolution to the tribe’s expiring gaming compact with the state. Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office announced that they have reached an agreement to extend the current deal until March 2024. This extension will automatically renew unless a new extension or agreement is found.
Seneca Nation’s original contract with the Empire State was first signed back in 2002, allowing the tribe to operate Class III casino properties in Western New York. It currently operates gaming venues in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca, but since the start of the contract, the gaming landscape has expanded and the tribe wants the state to offer better terms.
Providing More Time
Gov. Hochul and Seneca President Rickey L. Armstrong Sr. met last week in Buffalo and signed the extension which will see the current gaming compact expand until March 2024. In a written statement, the government commented the extension would give both parties more time to work on a long-term resolution in the coming weeks and months.
Meanwhile, Mr. Armstrong shared there have been face-to-face meetings with the governor as part of the discussion process. He added that the extension will give more time for the parties involved to complete the compact negotiations and acquire necessary approvals while noting that work at the three casinos will resume as normal and employees will not be impacted.
The recent extension of the gaming compact will be automatically renewed unless one of the parties denies further extension or a new agreement is found, informed the governor’s office. Meanwhile, compact terms remain the same, and negotiations will resume in the coming weeks. The original deal dates to 2002, and it was on track to expire on December 9, 2023.
But for a new deal to become reality, the state must approve it and lawmakers will not return to Albany for the next session in January 2024. Currently, the Native American Nation pays the state 25% of slot machine and other device revenue. But with the expansion of the gambling market, the tribe wants to pay less than the initial 25% via the new compact.
Compact Should be Prioritized
In the meantime, Congressman Nick Langworthy has underlined the importance of the tribe’s gaming compact with the Empire State. Recently, he reminded that Senecas casinos provide thousands of people with work in the region, with over 1,000 jobs in his district alone, and by not having a new agreement in place, they would be in jeopardy.
New York State Sen. George Borrello, R-57th District also agrees that the gaming deal should be a priority for the state. Senator Borrello said the compact is crucial for the economic well-being of Western New York and pointed out that the tribe’s casinos provide around US$1 billion every year to the local economy and benefit the livelihoods of thousands of individuals, businesses and families.
Source: Besecker, Aaron “New York State, Senecas extend gaming compact until end of March” The Buffalo News, December 1, 2023