Industry Reports

Fall 2020 Sees Ruling on Seneca Nation of Indians vs. New York State

Niagara Falls, New York is still determined to bag what it legally deserves form the Seneca Nation of Indians. Mayor Robert Restaino recently made it clear that the final decision on the subject would have to be delayed several months, as the legal battle has to go through several stages. The ultimate ruling could be issued in the fall months of this year and the City Council eyes win for the communities.

Surviving without regular casino revenue allocations has been a task that several communities have had to face over the past couple of years. The tribe owes some US$255,877,747.44 in gaming revenue payments generated over the past nearly three years of casino operation. The three communities struggling without the regular payments have had to make ends meet over this period.

September Could See Final Ruling

This includes various reductions, as well as loans by the state, seeking a temporary solution to the growing issue. The longer Seneca Nation of Indians refuses to make the mandatory payments, the bigger this overall allocation grows. Back in November 2019, the amount the tribe owed amounted to approximately US$255 million, but the fall months of this year are projected to see this sum swell even further.

The US District Court issued its official ruling towards the end of 2019, making the payment obligatory after years of legal battle and loopholes seeking. With the help of this payment, the three casino cost communities would be able to stay afloat and meet their budgets. Senior U.S. District Court Judge William Skretny in Buffalo issued the ruling which was promptly appealed by the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City came up with a schedule that is about to make 2020 an important year for the legal battle. It could also bring a possible solution to the issue. July is projected to see the filing of papers for both parties, making sure that the issue at hand has been thoroughly reviewed.

11 Quarterly Allocation Owed

Taking this schedule into account could mean that an official decision would not be available until September or October 2020. New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians have had a conversation regarding the future of the tribal gaming operation currently in progress. A new compact for the three tribal casinos would have to be inked in 2023. The details surrounding this compact would have to be talked through.

Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, and Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino are the three locations that welcomed casino patrons over the past three years without making payments to the state. Now the conversation on the subject has commenced once again, as projections are being made. Niagara Falls, Salamanca, and Buffalo are awaiting the allocation of 11 quarterly payments, as of February 2020.

Up until March 2017, host communities received 25 percent of the gaming revenue generated ultimately bagging a combined US$1 billion. In the meantime, Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. also had a position to share. He pointed out that the language of the tribal compact with the state should be respected, as this would mean that its integrity of protected.