Seneca Nation president: Casino compact talks progressing

Dec. 31—So what’s the latest on negotiations over a new gaming compact between the state of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians?

During a recent interview with the Niagara Gazette, Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. said, from his point of view, talks are progressing.

Armstrong said representatives from the Nation continue to meet regularly with state officials and he remains hopeful that a tentative deal will be in place for review by the federal government by the summer of 2023.

“We’ve made every effort to make progress,” Armstrong said.

“We want to continue to work toward a new gaming compact that reflects the gaming landscape in Buffalo, Niagara Falls,” he added.

The current gaming compact, which provides the Seneca Nation with exclusive rights to operate Class III casinos in Western New York, including Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca, is set to expire in December 2023.

Seneca officials have argued in the past that since the signing of the original compact, other gaming outlets, including so-called “racinos” in Hamburg and Batavia, cut into their exclusivity by offering video lottery terminals similar to slot machines.

Armstrong said the Nation has been working on its end of the proposed agreement for about two years and that he’s confident the Nation has “covered all of our bases.”

He maintains that the Seneca Gaming Corp.’s three local casinos have provided economic benefit to host communities like the Falls and Buffalo, in the form of jobs and spinoff from investments made by the companies with local vendors.

In addition, the compact has allowed the state of New York to collect a percentage of slot machine revenues from Seneca casinos, with 25% of those dollars being distributed to the Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca.

“I’m hopeful that the state recognizes the impact we’ve had on Western New York,” Armstrong said.

In a statement in response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said the executive chamber and the state gaming commission have been having “substantive negotiations” with the Seneca Nation for months.

“We are fully committed to continuing to meet, discuss, and negotiate a compact, and we are confident that the process will continue in a way that best serves New Yorkers,” the spokesperson said.

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