Gambling Legislation

New York tribal gaming compact on the verge of collapse

Days after NY agreed to halt a casino development, trouble emerges with the Seneca Nation

According to Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr., negotiations over renewing the lucrative state gaming compact have gone sour. Putting it bluntly, he called the state’s latest offer an “insult.”

In a three-minute video message, Armstrong addressed the state of negotiations with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration regarding a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation. The existing 20-year compact will expire on December 9.

In the video, posted on August 11, Armstrong said, “Frankly, for New York’s negotiators to propose such outrageous terms, especially this far into the negotiation process, is absurd and an insult to the Seneca Nation.”

In the current compact negotiated in 2002, the Nation pays 25% of revenues on slots and other games in a swap for exclusive rights to offer them west of State Route 14. The Nation has since opened three casinos in the western part of the state.

In early June, the Nation and Hochul’s administration had struck an agreement in principle. It collapsed after details of the negotiations were leaked and the public learned that the deal would permit a fourth casino to be built by the Senecas in the “Rochester market.”

Rochester Assembly members opposed the deal and rejected a bill allowing it to go before the state legislature before the last session ended.

Hochul’s senior staff previously handled the negotiations, but the Governor could join future talks herself. Hochul had recused herself because her husband once worked as a top executive for Delaware North, a gaming company that’s a Seneca competitor.

State Ethics Commissioner Michael Cardozo began talking about Hochul’s recent “advisory opinion” request, commonly requested when state employees are unsure whether their actions would violate ethics law, at the ethics committee meeting on July 19. However, he was cut short by another attendee who said the issue shouldn’t be discussed publicly. A spokeswoman for the commission declined to comment.

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