New York and Seneca Tribe Come to Agreement; Tribe Will Share Gambling Revenue
Putting an end to a long-standing battle, the Seneca Indian tribe reached an agreement with the state of New York this week, with the tribe agreeing to share gambling revenue that was being withheld in protest of the installation of video lottery machines in commercial, non-tribal racetracks in the western region of the state.
Since 2009 the tribe has refused to share their revenue, alleging that the racetracks were violating a contract that was meant to ensure tribal control of casinos in that area of New York.
Three communities to receive millions
As part of the agreement, three communities are now poised to receive millions of dollars of gambling revenue. Among them is popular tourist destination Niagara Falls, which will surely welcome the $89 million it is due to receive, considering the city is on course to run out of money this year. Also benefitting from the end of the standoff will be the towns of Salamanca and Buffalo, which will get $34.5 million and $15.5 million, respectively.
Since they stopped making payments to the state four years ago, the Seneca have accumulated a debt of $630 million. They will pay $408 million in back payments, and will also begin making regular remittances to the state at once.
After tense negotiations, positive response from both sides
After months of back and forth, with the tribe accusing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of being a bully, the response to the news of the agreement was received positively by the tribe, the Governor, as well as by the municipalities that have been struggling financially as a result of the held back revenue.
Speaking to reporters, Cuomo said, “It was a legitimate disagreement from the Senecas’ point of view. I always believed they had a significant point, that the state had violated the agreement, and I believe they had a bona fide bone of contention with state.”
“This agreement is a win-win-win; a win for local governments of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca, a win for the Seneca Nation, whose exclusivity will be honored, and a win for all New Yorkers, with hundreds of millions of dollars coming to the state now and for the future,” Cuomo went on.
Seneca President Barry Snyder Sr. remarked, “We can move forward as two sovereigns to get a lot more business done.”
No new casinos for region
One development to emerge from the negotiations is that the state has agreed that there will be no new casinos constructed in the western portion of New York, though Governor Cuomo is anxious to clear the way for new casino construction elsewhere in the state.
The New York Times reported that by ending the long-standing dispute with the Senecas, the Governor is hoping to ease the way for his plan to allow the building of seven brand-new, Nevada-style gambling resorts in the Empire State.
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