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Seneca Nation’s Leader Calls for Fair Gaming Compact

This week Seneca Nation of Indians celebrates the 20th anniversary of its gaming compact with New York State. At a press conference on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, at Seneca Niagara Casino, President of the Nation, Matthew Pagels, shared that he wants to see a new and fair gaming compact signed with the state’s administration for the tribe.

Back in 2002, the tribe inked a gaming compact with the Empire State which allowed it to enter the local gaming scenery. Shortly after that, the Nation launched its Seneca Niagara, Buffalo Creek and Seneca Allegany, which over the years have had a major economic impact on Western New York and have contributed to its recovery. However, the compact expires next year.

Negotiations Have Already Started

Speaking on the potential new gaming compact with the state, Mr. Pagels noted that the gaming sector in New York has changed substantially over the last 20 years since the Nation received exclusive rights. He pointed out that the industry has expanded as new casinos and racinos have launched in the region, and it affecting the Nation’s business.

The tribe’s spokesperson, Phil Pantano, said there were 10 casinos across New York, Connecticut, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Ontario when the nation’s first casino opened in 2002. And now there are more than 50 gaming properties in the same area. This has most definitely affected the tribe’s exclusivity and it has reflected on its operations, said Mr. Pagels.

Under the current agreement, the Nation pays 25% of slot machine and VLT revenue to the state, and last year Mr. Pagels stated that nowadays this rate is way too high. On Wednesday, he also noted that the gaming scenery has changed drastically, but refused to admit that the rate is too stiff. He said that it is a negotiation process and speculations are not appropriate.

Just over a year before the expiration of the current contract, the president shared that the Nation has already started talks with the state. This has been confirmed by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration. Her office commented that the executive chamber and the NYSGC have already started discussions with the Nation and are hopeful for the best possible result for the state.

No Looking Back, Says President

It could be said that the recent relationship between the Seneca Nation and the Empire State has been the opposite of immaculate. In April, the state took drastic measures to force the Nation to finally deliver its overdue slot revenue payments. However, Mr. Pagels said that the nation is as optimistic as possible about the new compact and there is no looking back.

In July, the Native American nation launched its new campaign to raise awareness about the tribe’s history and many contributions to the local economy of New York named #StandWithSeneca. Promotional materials for it aired on paid television and radio advertisements, billboards in certain markets, as well as social media messaging and engagement and community engagement. It also has a website – said the tribe.

Source: Scheer, Mark “Seneca Nation president seeks ‘fair, new” gaming compact”, Niagara Gazette, August 17, 2022