Seneca Nation Gaming Pact Still Being Debated in New York

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A view of the skyline of lower Manhattan is seen during sunrise on March 11, 2024 in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

Despite further talks and negotiations, a new gaming compact for the Seneca Nation of Indians in upstate New York remains elusive.

Let’s take a closer look at the negotiations’ delay and how it might impact top-rated sportsbooks.

Deal or No Deal

Assemblyman Joseph Giglio expressed his disappointment that Governor Kathy Hochul and the majority leaders in both the Assembly and Senate disagreed on a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation of Indians before the end of the 2024 legislative session.

In the wake of negotiations breaking down, Assemblyman Joseph Giglio made it clear in a recent press release that mere extensions will no longer suffice. “We are on track to enter our third three-month extension,” Giglio said. “I’ve spoken with Seneca Nation Council members who told me every time they think they have a deal, something happens that derails the talks. A new gaming compact is vital to our regional economy across Western New York.”

Seneca Nation President Ricky Armstrong Jr. and Governor Hochul agreed (before the original compact negotiated in 2002 was about to expire in December) to automatically extend the compact every quarter until they strike a new deal, with the current extension ending on June 30.

Armstrong said in a statement that the pace and progress of the negotiations, while detailed and deliberate, have been “painstaking, frustrating, and disappointing at times” while pledging to work toward a fair gaming compact that addresses both the Nation’s and the state’s needs, considering the current gaming environment in New York.

Three Upstate Casinos Affected by Decision

Despite the technical expiration of the compact in December, federal regulations permit New York and the Seneca Nation to prolong the agreement without federal approval, provided mutual consent exists.

This arrangement has allowed operations to persist uninterrupted at Seneca Allegany Casino, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, and Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel under the former compact’s terms. But the lack of a long-term deal means they are still technically in flux.

It is anticipated that this will remain the status quo until the ratification of a new compact, although the timeline for such an agreement remains uncertain.

Governor Hochul Holds the Power

In New York, the governor is responsible for negotiating gaming compacts with federally recognized tribes. However, the governor cannot unilaterally enact the compact. Approval from both the New York legislature and the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs is required.

The New York legislature completed its proceedings in Albany for 2024 and will not reconvene until January 2025. As a result, even if New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Seneca Nation reach an agreement, the compact cannot progress to the next stage until early next year.

More Time for Both Sides To Talk

On the bright side, this extended timeline allows Hochul and the Seneca Nation additional time to address any details.

Seneca Nation casinos contribute $1 billion annually to the Western New York economy, and Seneca Nation Hospitality ranks as one of the region’s largest employers, with a payroll exceeding 6,000 individuals, most of whom are non-Native. “It’s time for executive branch negotiating team to come back to the table and negotiate a deal in good faith with the Seneca Nation for the benefit of everyone in Western New York, native and non-native,” Giglio said.