The Seneca Nation of Indians and the state of New York managed to write history as they ended their years-long dispute regarding revenue sharing and thus, agreed to commence negotiations on a new gaming compact.
Seneca Nation Will Receive $40 Million in Disputed Fees
The president of the Seneca Nation, Matthew Pagels, took to Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday night to announce that both parties are currently working on the new gaming deal. Seneca Nation operates 3 Class III casinos located in western New York.
Not only that, but Pagels also added that the tribe would receive upwards of $40 million in fees and cost savings over the compact’s remaining two years. He said that thanks to these efforts, the tribe will ensure that it is being treated fairly and won’t’ be restricted by “unjust obligations.” Pagels also said that the tribe’s leadership would prove to be beneficial for all native nations going forward.
During his five-minute speech, Pagels said that the new compact negotiations are set to start in the next 60 days and admitted that instead of continuing the legal action against the state, it is best to address the concerns that were raised in the past four years by opening a negotiation process which will clarify the standpoint of both the state of New York and the Seneca Nation.
Governor Kathy Hochul also issued a statement in which she said that she’s happy to reach an agreement for the payments and continue in a manner that suits both the tribe and the state of New York. Hochul also stated that she’s looking forward to starting the discussions on the new gaming compact.
The Dispute Between the Seneca Nation and New York Was Caused By the 2002 Gaming Compact
Back in 2002, both sides agreed to a 21-year gaming compact, which included a base agreement that would last for 14 years and a 7-year option that would be applied automatically if the parties did not have any objections.
The feud between the Seneca Nation and New York started overpayments that were badly interpreted in the compact. As the deal started, the tribe’s payments to the state would eventually rise to 25% by year 14, but since this part was interpreted badly, the tribe claimed that it could stop payments, which is something that state officials disputed.
That is why the matter was taken to an arbitration panel of three people whose split decision went to the state. However, the Seneca Nation thought that the panel violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and decided to file a lawsuit, but the judge ruled in the state’s favor.
Senecas appealed that decision but had no success as the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the state’s favor. The whole dispute did not end there as Senecas decided to get the ruling vacated as the US Department of the Interior informed the tribe that it didn’t perform an economic assessment on the 7-year addition to the compact, which is something that is required under IGRA.
In September, tribal leaders asked William Skretny, US District Judge, to delay ordering the payments until the National Indian Gaming Commission concluded whether they would violate IGRA. According to IGRA, agreements on revenue-sharing with state governments must give tribes something of value in return.