Seneca Nation to make final state payment for casinos

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Seneca Nation says their next payment to the state for casino operations will be their last. The Seneca Nation has paid the state more than $1.4 billion since 2002.

This could have a major impact on cities such as Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca where the casinos are located.

A Seneca Nation spokesperson told News 4, on average the state received around $115- $120 million every year. Typically, $20 million would go to the City of Niagara Falls and Buffalo and Salamanca would see roughly $6 million a year.

This was part of a compact the tribe signed in 2002 with the state.

In the compact, it states that Seneca Nation agrees to contribute to the state a portion of the proceeds from slot machines.

The compact breaks it down into percentages each year.

The compact states, for years 1-4 the Nation agrees to pay the state 18% of proceeds yearly, 22% will be paid to the state for years 5-7 and 25% will be paid to the state for years 8-14. The compact does not mention any more payments after year 14.

The compact also says it will terminate on the 14th anniversary of the date it was signed in 2002. It says if no party objects in writing 120 days prior to the expiration date, the compact will be renewed automatically for an additional seven years. It does not state anything further about state payments.

A spokesperson for the Nation said the last payment to the state will be made by the end of next week.

Seneca Nation President Todd Gates said on Thursday that it was disheartening to hear Governor Andrew Cuomo discuss the state budget without mentioning people of the Seneca Nation. He says the Seneca Nation is open to talking with the state.

The compact will officially expire in 2023.

Gates released this statement:

“The Seneca Nation has followed the terms of our gaming compact since 2002 and we will continue to do so until it expires in 2023. As written in the compact, the Nation provided a share of our revenue to the state through the end of last year. Although the revenue share has ended, we remain committed to being good neighbors in the communities where we have gaming facilities and we look forward to working directly with them to continue the economic progress of Western New York. Since 2002, the Seneca Nation has contributed more than $1 Billion to state and local governments.  In addition the Nation has created thousands of jobs, drove another $1 Billion in private investment, and created transformational economic opportunities for the local construction trades and our many local business partners.”

“This is not new,” Seneca Nation President Todd Gates said during a Thursday conference. “Clearly, we play an important role in the economy.”

Gates said he “can’t be concerned with the state,” and that he is “looking out for” the people of the Seneca Nation.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown released this statement:

“We are currently reviewing the matter and are communicating with the parties to the Compact to get more information on this issue.  We will reserve further comment until we’ve done a thorough analysis of all available information.”

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster told News 4 he was not commenting on the matter at this time.

A spokesperson for New York State also declined to comment.

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