Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State are in the middle of gaming compact discussions as the current contract is set to expire in December 2023. However, State Sen. George Borrello, a Republican from Sunset Bay, has recently shared that he was not hearing great things about the compact negotiations. And time is running out for the tribal nation.
Currently, the Seneca Nation operates three Class III casinos in western New York, but in order to do so, federal law mandates that it needs a compact agreement with the Empire State. Revenue from its gaming operations is used to support services to people from the entire region, while also providing crucial employment for people, paying vendors and promoting tourism.
Negotiations Must Be Quick
Mr. Borrello is not directly involved in the negotiations but his Southern Tier district stretches around Seneca territory and its Allegany gaming amenity. He explained that the state Legislature would most likely have to vote on an agreement before the end of the session in June. He added sessions can be called for important political events, but he does not believe that it would be the case for the tribe’s compact.
Business owned and activist J.C. Seneca said state Legislature approval is not the only reason to accelerate negotiations. He elaborated that the Nation must also get a potential deal green-lighted by a majority referendum vote of its citizens. He added that such things can take a while, and people must also be familiar with the details of the gaming compact.
Meanwhile, the tribe claimed Gov. Kathy Hochul recused herself from direct negotiations since her husband works for Seneca Gaming competitor, Delaware North. In response, the governor’s office issued a statement saying staff at the Executive Chamber and Gaming Commission have been leading negotiations with the Nation for months and that the state is fully committed to reaching a fair gaming compact.
In an attempt to raise awareness about the contract, J.C. Seneca has launched a website, WNYFairCompact.com, and is sending a petition and letter to the governor and Legislature. However, that is not all, as he has also organized a rally which will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2023, in the lot next to Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
In August last year, President of the Nation, Matthew Pagels, called for a fair gaming compact. He noted the gaming sector in the state has changed drastically 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 which was affecting the tribe’s business.
Appointing New Member
In March 2023, Seneca Nation’s Seneca Gaming Corporation which oversees gambling activities announced an important appointment. Les Leonard has now assumed the position of Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. He is now in charge of the operation and maintenance of information technology programs of the company’s three casino properties in Western New York.
Source: Whalen, Ryan “Seneca Nation gaming compact deadlines looming” Spectrum News 1, May 16, 2023