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NY Governor Rejects Involvement in Casino Negotiations

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Governor Kathy Hochul of New York wants to make sure that her political detractors don’t have more ammunition than they need. In doing so, the governor has made it clear once more that she is not playing any role in the ongoing talks between the state and the Seneca Nation concerning a casino in the Rochester region.

No Way, Shape or Form

Hochul, in speaking with local media outlet 13WHAM ABC, emphasized that she is currently not engaged in any form of dialogue, strategic considerations or negotiations involving the casino. She added that she has recused herself from the situation in order to prevent any appearance of impropriety.

Hochul may be out of the talks, but some of her closest political allies aren’t. State leaders and lawmakers have been negotiating with the Seneca Nation over the tribe’s gaming compact, a matter of public record.

Hochul has explained that she stepped away because of her husband's position as the Senior VP and General Counsel at Delaware North. The latter is a company out of Buffalo, NY, that works with the Seneca Nation on various hospitality and gambling initiatives.

Seneca Nation may want to include a massive casino in Rochester as part of the negotiations of its gaming compact, which would also benefit Delaware North. Previous media reports have alleged that Hochul, either personally or through her office, was trying to work a deal with the tribe.

Gov. Hochul was denied the authority to endorse the Seneca Treaty by the New York Assembly. As a result, Seneca Nation Chairman Rickey Armstrong Sr. vehemently accused the governor of intentionally hindering the contract's renewal.

Despite the unexpected delay, Governor Hochul affirmed that talks with the Seneca Nation are actively progressing. She underscored his unwavering resolve to prioritize the welfare of all involved parties and collaborate with influential entities in this matter.

Casino Controversy Continues

It was difficult enough for New York to open its brick-and-mortar casino market, which took several years and had to overcome several rejections. Then came sports betting, which also faced initial resistance.

Adding another casino to the landscape remains a political powder keg. Concerns regarding the potential consequences of the planned casino in the region have been voiced by Rochester legislators, as well as others in the state, as lawmakers take sides.

Various parties, including the Governor's Office, local organizations and the Mayor's Office of Greater Rochester, are diligently working together. They’re trying to ensure the public that any potential deal reached between the Seneca Nation and New York State is transparent and well-informed. However, overcoming the opposition isn’t easy.

As its existing agreement with the state is set to conclude in December, the Seneca Nation is running out of time. It’s trying to drum up public support for an equitable gaming compact, which also means NY has to be willing to compromise.

On more than one occasion, the tribe has withheld or threatened to withhold money - reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars - it had to pay the state per its compact. If the two sides can’t settle their differences now, more financial trouble could be on the horizon.

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