The inevitable is now actual. The Seneca Nation and the state of New York have agreed to extend the current gaming compact between those two parties. The consensus extends the terms of the current deal on a currently indefinite basis.
That indefinite time frame may be necessary as there is no indication that the two sides are close to drawing up a new compact. The distance between the two parties might be great regarding important components of their relationship.
Seneca Nation gaming compact expiration averted, for now
The existing compact between New York, the Seneca Nation, and the US Dept. of the Interior (DOI) had been set to expire on Dec. 9. That is no longer the case.
Federal law allows New York and the Seneca Nation to extend their deal without DOI approval. According to a release from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, that is exactly what the two parties have done.
While the new expiration date is currently March 31, 2024, the release also states that the compact “will automatically renew unless one of the parties decides not to renew it or a new gaming compact is agreed upon.”
As far as what happens now, the statement goes into that somewhat. The release says that “both sides will be meeting again in the coming weeks to continue negotiations.”
Furthermore, Seneca Nation of Indians President Rickey L. Armstrong is quoted in the release as saying that “our three gaming properties will continue to operate without interruption.”
Both sides show optimism that negotiations will be productive. How quickly that productivity may produce a new compact remains uncertain.
Negotiations of terms pending for Seneca’s NY tribal casinos
Two outstanding issues seem to have stymied negotiations to this point.
One of the two pertinent tenets of a new compact is the size of the payments that the Seneca Nation will remit to the state. The other is the duration of the new compact.
The current version of the compact ran for 20 years. The Seneca Nation would probably prefer a shorter term. Under the terms of the current deal, the Seneca casinos pay a quarter of their slot win to New York.
Similarly, the Seneca Nation would likely want to cut that rate. An earlier tentative agreement featured another 2o-year term but cut the revenue-sharing payment to 19.5% of slot revenue.
That deal included giving the Seneca Nation the right to open a fourth casino, however. Members of the state legislature found the addition of a new casino near Rochester unacceptable.
There does seem to be support for the current extension of the existing compact, though. New York Sen. George Borello, whose district is just to the east and south of Buffalo, communicated his pleasure about the news.
Borello also encouraged Hochul to act quickly on reaching a new compact. Borello is probably not the only person who feels that way. The uncertainty of working on an extended compact is far from ideal for everyone.