The Seneca Nation of Indians has announced that casino payments to the state government will be suspended as of the following week. The decision, which was provoked by tension between the tribe and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, would put an end to an annual $110-million contribution to Albany.
The Seneca Tribe claim to be acting in accordance with the 2002 compact which binds them to share a quarter of slot machine revenues from the three casinos in Western New York until the end of 2016. According to the tribe’s interpretation of the document, state revenue sharing payments can be halted after 14 years.
However, the Cuomo administration and local government officials maintain the payment scheme has to continue to be implemented.
This is not the first instance of confrontation between Cuomo and the Senecas. Roughly the same scenario unfolded in 2013 when the Seneca Nation stopped revenue sharing payments claiming that New York had violated the terms of the compact by allowing new forms of gambling at racetrack-based casinos. Back then, Cuomo threatened he would issue a commercial casino license in Niagara Falls. The warning was effective and the controversy ended by the Senecas paying out $349.7 million to the state.