Group says ‘catastrophic harm’ for WNY if Seneca stops sharing $50 million in slot funds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 February 2018 at 9:30 am

Stalemate deprives Orleans of $230,000 in gambling revenues

A group of county officials from throughout the state want an end of a dispute that is causing the Seneca Nation of Indians to withhold $50 million in revenues in municipalities.

The New York State Association of Counties met last week at its Legislative Conference in Albany and the group approved a resolution, calling for the Seneca Nation and the state “to expeditiously resolve their differences and reach an agreement to avoid catastrophic harm to public safety and public services.”

The Seneca Nation was sharing about $50 million annually in slot machine revenues with local governments, including $230,000 annually to Orleans County. The gambling proceeds went 16 counties in Western New York and other local governments.

The Seneca Nation shared the money as part of a 2002 compact. Seneca leaders say language in 2002 compact allowed the Senecas to stop sharing revenue with the local governments and the state after 14 years. The state is contesting that, saying the money should continue to be shared.

NYSAC, the group representing the counties, say the funds are needed to help the WNY municipalities maintain critical government services during an era of a property tax cap.

“The Seneca Nation and the counties of New York have a long history of productive partnerships and respect, and the Nation leaders have recently expressed that they wish to continue their valued partnership with local governments,” the NYSAC resolution reads. “The long-term viability of this region depends, in part, on all parties coming to an agreement on the involved issues.”

NYSAC said the Seneca Nation and state are attempting to resolve the issue through arbitration, which could be a dragged-out process taking years. NYSAC wants to see the elected leaders of the state and Seneca Nation instead move to quickly resolve the issue.

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