Pressure mounts on Seneca Nation Tribe and Niagara Falls to resolve slots revenue dispute

  • Niagara Falls cash reserves are close to running dry according to an audit by the state comptroller’s office
  • Seneca Nation of Indians believe the state have violated a compact agreement by authorising seven commercial casinos

An ongoing dispute between the city of Niagara Falls and the Seneca Nation of Indians could plunge the city into financial crisis if a slots revenue dispute is not settled by the end of 2017.

Seneca Nation Tribe and Niagara Falls slots revenue dispute
Pressure mounts on Seneca Nation Tribe and Niagara Falls to resolve slots revenue dispute

Cash reserves in the cities vaults are reportedly due to run dry by the end of the year if the Senecas fail to restart paying revenue generated from slots at their Seneca Niagara land-based casino.

What is the dispute about?

In 2002, a compact was signed between the State and the Seneca Nation of Indians to pay 25% of its annual slot machine revenue from its three Western New York casinos and since then the tribe have reportedly contributed about $100 million in revenue to the state.

The Senecas believe that the state of New York has violated the compact after authorizing seven new commercial casinos in New York State even including one in the tribes own County.

The compact actually expired on December 31st and this (coupled with the perceived violation) led to the tribe ceasing all revenue payments to the state from February.

Can it be resolved?

As with all disputes, it appears a Mexican stand-off type scenario is in play right now. The tribe are adamant that New York has violated the Compact but the state believes the tribe should carry on paying as the compact was automatically renewed for a further seven years as neither of the parties had initially raised objections as to whether it had been observed strictly.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also threatened to authorise a new commercial casino in the city of Niagara if the tribe fail to accept the seven-year extension.

The cities Major Paul Dyster certainly hopes a resolution can be found sooner rather than later after a letter he sent to the states comptrollers highlighted the city was doing everything it can to protect its dwindling coffers.

In the letter, Dyster claimed the city has “adequate reserves in place to last over the course of this current dispute.”

However, the letter comes after the city was forced to end non-essential spending it a bid to plug a small percentage of the shortfall.

What happens now remains to be seen but the hope is a resolution can be found quickly that will suit all concerned.

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