NEW YORK TRIBE TO HALT $110 MILLION PAYMENT

NEW YORK TRIBE

Several years ago New York lawmakers approved a plan to permit four new Las Vegas-style commercial casinos in up-state areas in order to keep an estimated $1 billion in gambling dollars from seeping into nearby states. Three of the four have opened in the last four months, with the final one scheduled to open early 2018.

The state’s tribal casino industry, however, which is regulated by the federal government, reportedly isn’t too pleased with the competition. The Seneca Nation of Indians, that operates three casinos in western New York, said that it won’t continue paying $110 million per year in revenue sharing to Albany, according to a report.

The report stated that the Senecas are particularly concerned regarding the Del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County that opened in February.

The tribe’s New York casinos include the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, Seneca Niagara Casino, and Seneca Allegheny Casino.

The gaming agreement between the tribe and New York dates back to 2002. It will expire in six years, but the Senecas contend that the revenue sharing will end now. However, the state disagrees. Since 2002, the tribe has cashed out about $1.5 billion to Albany.

The compact offered the tribe casino gambling exclusivity in the region.

The report further states that the Senecas aren’t stopping payments explicitly due to casino competition. The tribe alleges the language of the compact was written in such a manner that it allows them to put a stop to the revenue sharing after 14 years.

This isn’t the first instance the Senecas and state officials have quarrelled over the compact.

The tribe and the state had a conflict in 2013 over the new commercial casinos, but it was sorted out in part owing to Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatening to permit a casino just 20 miles northwest of Buffalo.

The state’s tribal gaming industry didn’t attempt to hamper the commercial casino referendum.

Possible implications for internet poker?

If the tribe is successful in stopping the $110 million payment to the state, lawmakers could be more inclined to approve online poker legislation currently on the table.

New York currently has an estimated year-one online poker market of $120 million. The proposed tax rate in the legislation is 15 percent.

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, Chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, stated in a February interview that the state’s commercial casinos are not at odds with web poker.

“I didn’t want to put competition in there before they even opened their doors," he said. "All four casinos have said they don’t have a problem with the state offering online poker—and the seven racinos are also eligible to be in partnership with organizations that handle online poker.”

New York officials are presently working on drafting the 2017-18 state budget.