New York State's long, contentious relationship with the Seneca Nation appears to have taken another negative turn. On Tuesday, an arbitration panel determined the Nation should resume making casino revenue-sharing payments to the state. "The Seneca people are angry. They can't believe these three judges came up with this decision," said John Kane, host of the radio show "Let's Talk Native."
The prospect of the return of revenue payments is being welcomed by officials in the cities hosting Seneca casinos: Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca. The lost revenue has hurt municipal treasuries, most notably in Niagara Falls which was forced to deal with a $13 million budget hole in 2018.
The payments stopped in 2017 with Seneca officials claiming they had fulfilled the terms of their 2002 casino compact with the state. Now, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster is anticipating a windfall, telling WBFO he expects back payments to total $30 million. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is anticipating $13 million. Mayor Michael Smith says Salamanca has missed out on $9 million.
Kane, however, believes many are missing a larger issue. He contends the state has kept over $1 billion in casino revenues which were NOT shared with the local municipalities.
"If the money doesn't leave the region, it's spent back into the local economy. That's not case," Kane told WBFO.
"The state's position is: You send us the money and we'll let some of it trickle back."