New York Governor Kathy Hochul does not believe that her office deserves the criticism for how it handled the negotiations with the Seneca Nation of Indians on a new Class III gaming compact. She recently said that the state is back in the negotiation stages with the Nation. However, she recused herself from the discussions due to a potential conflict of interest.
Her exclusion from the negotiations is due to her husband, William Hochul, being Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Delaware North. The company runs the gaming and food services of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack in Farmington and Hamburg Gaming in upstate New York. The region is close to the tribe’s casino operations and the two are considered competitors.
During the process of negotiations between the state and the Seneca Nation, Gov. Hochul was relatively quiet, before giving an update last weekend. She noted that she upheld her promise not to put her stance on the tribal compact, as he recused herself from the beginning and delegated the responsibility to work with Senecas who wanted confidentiality on the deal.
She stated that the process was restarting and mentioned that there would be additional communication. The gov. expressed that her team was eager to develop an agreement that benefited everyone and clarified that was the current status. However, she emphasized that she was not involved in the negotiations, the timing, or the discussions with other individuals regarding the compact.
Recently, the state Assembly chose not to go with the tentative agreement between the state and the tribe, which led to Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. criticizing the governor for failing to communicate the discussion with relevant state lawmakers and local officials in Rochester. He accused the governor of purposefully stalling the compact renewal as a way of benefiting Delaware North.
The tentative agreement between the Empire State and the Native American tribe suggested launching a casino in Rochester. However, the staff of Del Lago, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, and Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing came out to protest against the proposed site. All involved were worried about the effects and implications on the region.
Even though the new gaming compact was not passed by the state, the governor informed that her office is back on the drawing board with the Nation to find new terms that will benefit both the state and the tribe. She believes that both sides are enlisting their top talents to work on the matter, and they will continue until a good outcome is found for all involved parties.
The recent compact discussions come on the back of a major conflict between the two sides, as previously Seneca stopped its gaming allocations to the state. A while back the tribe cited that the jurisdiction breached its exclusivity in the region and stopped its payments. In order to help its case, the tribe launched campaigns such as #StandWithSeneca to raise awareness.
Source: O’Connor, Devin “New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Says Seneca Nation Casino Negotiations Ongoing” Casino.org, July 3, 2023