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Seneca Gaming Compact in New York No Closer to Resolution

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As the deadline of December 9 continues to approach, signaling the expiration of the Seneca Nation's gaming compact with New York state, the negotiations between the tribe and state have plunged into an impasse. Should an agreement fail to materialize within the next three weeks, the tribe might once more withhold their revenue-sharing obligations to the state of New York.

Seneca Holds the Cards

For months, the Seneca have been engaged in negotiations for the renewal of the agreement governing the three casinos the tribe owns and operates in the state, including the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel in Niagara Falls, Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo. However, progress has been hindered by obstacles faced over the summer, and since then, there have been no indications of any advancement.

Related: NY Governor Rejects Involvement in Casino Negotiations

A potential delay in implementing a new agreement could arise even if a possible resolution is reached in the forthcoming weeks. Governor Kathy Hochul of New York plans to gather the Legislature for the approval of legislation endorsing the recent treaty. At the same time, the Seneca Nation is anticipated to proceed with its own voting process for treaty ratification. The federal government also has to thoroughly examine the agreement once it has emerged.

Nonetheless, there is a provision in federal law that permits states and tribes to mutually consent to prolong the duration of current agreements while simultaneously engaging in negotiations for new ones. President Rickey Armstrong Jr. of the Seneca Nation shared his positive outlook earlier this year, expressing hope for the potential of an extension. During a May discussion with the media outlet Buffalo News, he anticipated an extended window to finalize the negotiations, making it clear that the casino's operations would remain unaffected.

Armstrong voiced his disapproval of New York's plans through X (previously known as Twitter) in August, deeming them to be inequitable and unsatisfactory. He emphasized the importance of ensuring an unbiased environment for outsourcing sports activities, underscoring that any agreement involving compensation should distinctly portray the worth of exclusiveness.

The Evolution of New York Gaming Impacts the Tribe

Over the last two decades, New York has witnessed substantial transformations within the gaming sector. These include the launch of legalized sports betting, the expansion of physical casinos and, most notably, the possible introduction of iGaming in 2024.

Contrary to earlier reports of advancements in negotiations, the agreement between the Seneca Nation and New York crumbled due to the revelation of the Seneca's plan to build a fourth casino in Rochester. That project didn't find a lot of support from the New York Assembly, which then promised to block the compact negotiations.

As a result, the Seneca tribe pushed for a tax rate below the 25% it currently gives. However, New York lawmakers are trying to shut the demand down. This has led to the latest obstacle to the renewal of the compact, with the tribe ready to stand its ground if the state doesn't respond favorably to its requests.

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