New York, Seneca Nation temporarily extend casino compact
The gaming compact between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State, which was set to expire at the end of next week, has been extended through March, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul's Office.
The clock is ticking for New York and the Seneca Nation to strike an agreement allowing casino gaming to continue at three Seneca-owned facilities in Western New York.
Hochul and Seneca President Rickey L. Armstrong Sr. met Friday in Buffalo and signed the extension, the governor's office said in a news release.
The extension of the compact, which was to expire Dec. 9, also will automatically renew unless one of the parties rejects a further extension or a new agreement is reached, according to the governor's office.
Compact terms remain unchanged and negotiations will continue in the coming weeks.
The original deal to allow casino gaming was reached in 2002.
In order to make a new deal, the State Legislature's approval is required. Lawmakers aren't scheduled to return to Albany until the new session begins next month.
In a written statement, the governor said this extension allows both sides more time to work "towards a long-term resolution" in the coming weeks and months.
Armstrong said there have been face-to-face meetings with Hochul as part of the negotiations over the last several weeks.
In a video posted last week, Rickey Armstrong Sr. said that earlier this summer, the Nation and Hochul administration had only a “percentage point” difference in their positions on the revenue sharing rate, but that the state’s offer had gotten “significantly” worse since then.
"This short-term extension will provide additional time for our governments to complete Compact negotiations and to seek all necessary approvals in accordance with Seneca Nation, New York State and federal law," Armstrong said in a written statement. "Under the extension, our three gaming properties will continue to operate without interruption, alleviating any concerns about potential impacts for our thousands of casino employees, which was a priority for the Nation."
Under the original agreement, the Nation has the exclusive right to operate slot machines and other gaming devices west of State Route 14.
The Seneca Nation, which operates casinos in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca, in recent years has been paying 25% of slot machine and other device revenue.
As the gaming market in the northeastern United States has grown more saturated since 2002, the value of that exclusivity has dropped.
The Nation wants to pay far less than 25% in a new deal.
Reach Aaron at abesecker[at]buffnews.com or 716-849-4602.