A New York federal judge has ruled that the Seneca Tribe must pay two years of backpay from its revenue sharing compact with New York State.
Seneca Tribe Ordered to Pay $255M to New York State
New York State and Seneca Nation have been in disagreement over revenue payments for nearly three years, and it has finally come to an end with a ruling from the federal courts. The Seneca Nation has been ordered to pay $255 million to the state, after withholding casino revenue payments for several years now.
The issue started in 2017, when the tribe first argued that a revenue sharing compact did not specify how much money the Senecas would owe after 2016. The compact was signed in 2002 and, and it was extended, it did not include a payment schedule for any time beyond that year.
In 2012, ten years into the compact Governor Cuomo and the Seneca Nation decided to extend the compact into 2023. In April 2017, the tribe announced that its “obligation to the state has ended” and would no longer be making payments to the state.
Previously, the Senecas were required to provide the state of New York with revenue from their slot machines on a sliding scale:
- 18% for years one through four
- 22% for years five to seven
- 25% for years eight to 14
Earlier this year, an arbitration panel had determined that the tribe should continue paying the state until 2023. However, the Seneca Nation challenged the decision. It was only last week that a Western District of New York agreed with the panel. As such, the Seneca Nation will have to pay out a total of $255,877,747.44.
The Senecas issued a statement, reading:
“Our Compact agreement is clear in what it says and in what it does not say. Despite that lack of ambiguity, a majority of an arbitration panel interpreted that a new, unwritten obligation exists for the Seneca Nation. Today, the Court has affirmed their interpretation”.
There is no word yet on how the Seneca Nation and New York State will continue on together in the casino market. While the tribe now owes $225 million in backpay, neither party has confirmed how the revenue sharing will work going forward.
Darius Pridgen, Buffalo City Council President says:
“My hope going forward is that we can continue to have a positive working relationship with the Seneca Nation as a stakeholder and important part of our community.”