Senecas ask Interior Department to review gaming compact with NYS

Apr 18, 2019

Casino revenue payments to localities remain on hold, as New York State and the Seneca Nation continue their dispute over the gaming compact that allowed Nation casinos to operate. The Seneca Nation is now calling on the U.S. Department of the Interior to review the compact, after a state panel ruled against them.

Tensions between the two parties have risen since 2017, when the Senecas stopped sharing 25 percent of their casino revenue with the state, saying their obligation was complete per the compact. Those payments had translated into more than $1.4 billion over the 14 years since the compact was agreed upon in 2002.

When New York insisted payments continue, both sides agreed to arbitration. Most recently, a state panel decided the Nation must keep paying for years 15-21 of the compact.

That decision has prompted the Senecas to request the Interior Department to review the gaming compact, as it did when the compact began. At that time, the Senecas estimated a total of more than $5 billion in revenue from it soperations over the term of the compact, "of which the state would receive less than $1 billion," and a portion of those state funds would go to local governments."

Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. said in a statement that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ultimately governs all Nation-state compacts across the United States. He said the state panel's decision created a new amendment to the compact and allowing the decision to take effect without Interior Department review would undermine all sovereign nations' trust in the federal government.