Senecas lose arbitration ruling on casino revenue payments

Apr 13, 2019

An arbitration panel has ruled that the Seneca Nation must pay $266 million from their casinos to New York State as part of the long disputed Gaming Compact agreement.

John Kane, a Mohawk radio host and activist living on Seneca territory, says the ruling forces the Senecas to pay the state slot money, despite the nation never having really received its gaming exclusivity perk. That brings questions of legality as it relates to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or IGRA.

Credit Online Screen Grab / WBFO

“For revenue sharing to occur, the test that the Interior Department, who is charged with enforcing the IGRA, says that the test can’t be a tax. And the way you determine whether a state is trying to impose a tax, fee or burden on Native gaming is that the state must offer something of substantial value and quantifiable value as a concession for that revenue sharing.”

Kane argues that the several state-run race tracks that host slot machines breaks the Senecas gaming exclusivity right. Earlier this month, IGRA was at the center of a federal court case involving six tribes in New Mexico, where the state government demanded $60 million from Native-run casinos.

A judge ruled in favor of the tribes, citing a lack of IGRA compliance in their compacts.