Representative Nick Langworthy is calling for an update on the gaming compact situation with the Seneca Nation of Indians from Governor Kathy Hochul. The current contract between the tribe and the Empire State expires on December 9, 2023, and there is not much time left for the two parties to negotiate and potentially strike a new agreement on a compact.
Seneca Nation’s current contract with the state was inked back in 2002, and it allows the tribe to operate Class III casinos in Western New York. Its properties are Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino, Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, and under the terms, it shares a percentage of slot machine revenue with the state.
Putting Thousands of Jobs at Risk
Mr. Langworthy 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. He said that in the worst-case scenario, tons of people would be laid off in December, just before Christmas, and that is why he wants an update on the matter.
In his words, when the compact expires, the tribe’s gaming licenses would be invalid, therefore its casinos would not be able to operate without a license. He emphasized that it is essential for the tribe to get a new fair deal from the state, and also reminded that the state has expanded its gaming operations into non-native lands across the whole state.
Furthermore, Mr. Langworthy remarked that the casinos are crucial to the tribe and that they also produce substantial tax revenue which is critically important for Western New York communities. He still noted that gambling is the ideal source, and economic development should not be entirely based on gaming, but it is crucial that the region has such a source of money.
If the two parties eventually agree, then the U.S. Department of the Interior must approve the new compact. He added that his office will be exploring the necessary steps for expedited approval if the negotiations come down to the 11th hour. It remains to be seen whether the state and the Native American nation will find a middle ground by the deadline.
New York State Sen. George Borrello, R-57th District has also highlighted the importance and economic benefit of a new gambling compact with the Empire State. He 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.
Seneca Celebrates Native American Heritage Month.
In the meantime, Seneca Nation is marking another Native American Heritage Month. Festivities started with the annual Community Dinner & Social on November 1, 2023, at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. But there is plenty more to come as the three casinos announced a full schedule of events and attractions throughout November 2023.
Source: McCullen, Justin “As deadline looms, Rep. Nick Langworthy calls for update on Seneca gaming compact” WIVB.com, November 17, 2023