As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders agreed to pursue an expansion of commercial gambling to create jobs and raise revenues, leaders of the Seneca Indian Nation leaders said they will “vigorously fight” to protect the tribe’s status as the sole operator of casinos in western New York.
“This is about potentially diluting our business,” said Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter at the tribe’s Niagara Falls casino, while lawmakers met in Albany to discuss budget issues.
The Senecas operate three New York casinos under a 2002 compact with then-Governor George Pataki. The compact requires them to share revenues from those casinos: Seneca Niagara Casino, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, with the state and the cities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca, where those casinos are respectively located. The compact also guarantees the Seneca tribe exclusive gambling rights in 14 western New York counties through the year 2023.
According to the Senecas, the state has already violated the exclusivity clause by allowing slot machines at racetracks within the 14-county zone and the video game Moxie Mania in bars. The Tribal Council has been withholding the state and local governments’ casino cut for almost three years.
“We’re strongly opposed to any constitutional amendment that would interfere with our exclusivity rights in western New York,” said Porter. “What happens outside our exclusivity zone, we are certainly going to be attentive to that, but it doesn’t elevate itself to the same level of concern.”