New York’s gaming compact negotiations with Seneca Nation ongoing: Governor Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul

New York State’s negotiations with the Seneca Nation of Indians regarding a new Class III gaming compact are still going on, Governor Kathy Hochul (D) announced. Refuting criticism of the way her office handled tribal gaming compact negotiations with the Seneca Nation, New York Governor Hochul (D) said that talks between the two sides are ongoing. She stressed that she would neither involve in the negotiations nor she would input her opinion on the tribal gaming compact.

Govenor Hochul recused herself from all matters involving Delaware North, a gaming & hospitality firm headquartered in Buffalo, because of her husband William Hochul works for this gaming entity. Her husband is serving Delaware North as a senior vice president and general counsel. Delaware North manages the gaming & food operations of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and Hamburg Gaming. Both of these racinos are in Upstate New York, close to the area where the Senecas Nation hold a monopoly on casino gambling.

When the governor’s office and the tribal leaders a new Class III gaming agreement last month, many were quick to criticize the governor. The agreement potentially included a provision to allow the tribe to build a Las Vegas-style resort casino in Rochester. Local as well as several state officials condemned the governor for not taking their feedback in such a critical matter.

The criticism prompted the New York Assembly to refuse to pass a statute authorizing the governor to sign the tribal gaming compact as required by the state constitution. After the New York State Assembly opted not to allow the governor to approve the new compact, Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. scolded the governor for her failure. The tribal chief stressed that Seneca Nation once again reminded that Native Nations are secondary to corporate interests.

In response, Hochul said, “The process is restarting. There will be more communication, and my team is looking forward to coming up with an agreement that serves everyone. That is the status right now — but again, I’m not involved in the negotiations, the timing, or the involvement in talking to other people about this.”

In case a concrete deal is not reached between the two sides, the greatest beneficiary of the tribal nation’s expiring compact will unquestionably be Delaware North.

The federally-recognized Seneca Nation’s current gaming compact with the New York State took effect in December 2002, and it is scheduled to expire on December 9, 2023.

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