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Seneca Nation Gaming Compact Approval Likely To Take Months Yet

The finalization of a new gaming compact for the Seneca Nation won’t happen anytime soon as the state legislature has closed its session.

Members Of Seneca Nation Listen During Hearing In New York
Photo by AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
Derek Helling Avatar
3 mins read

Three upstate casinos in New York are still technically in flux. What’s more, a definite conversion from that fluid situation to a more solid set of circumstances is still at least months away.

Negotiations between the state of New York and the Seneca Nation on a new gaming compact continue amid extensions of their prior agreement. Those extensions could theoretically continue indefinitely and that is fortuitous for all parties.

Seneca Nation, New York still apart on compact terms

Grant Lucas of PlayNY reports that Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. recently called the negotiations process disappointing although deliberate. Those negotiations have been ongoing for years now.

Although the compact technically expired in December, federal law allows New York and the Seneca Nation to extend it without approval from the United States government as long as both parties are amenable. That has been the case so far.

As a result, Seneca Allegany Casino, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, and Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel continue to operate under the terms of the previous compact without interruption. That will probably continue until a new compact becomes final.

However, it could be quite some time before that happens.

Legislature checks out putting compact on hold until next year

In New York, the governor has the responsibility of negotiating gaming compacts with federally recognized tribes. she can’t enact the compact unilaterally, though.

The New York legislature and the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs must also approve of the compact. The legislature is done with its proceedings in Albany for 2024.

The body will not reconvene until its next regular session, which should begin in January 2025. That means even if New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Seneca Nation agree, the compact can’t move to the next stage until early next year at the soonest.

On the other hand, that means Hochul and the Seneca Nation have some time to iron out the details. There hasn’t been a lot of public discussion about what exactly the points of contention are. At the same time, some matters are probably crucial to the compact.

The pertinent terms of the deal

The terms that are most contentious in the negotiations are probably the duration of the compact and the revenue-sharing framework. The previous agreement had a term of 20 years and required the Seneca Nation to pay New York a quarter of its win from slot play.

The Seneca Nation is likely pushing for a shorter term and a lower percentage of the revenue share. Meanwhile, Hochul is probably trying to resist those advances.

Another potential tenet of the negotiations might be allowing the Seneca Nation to offer online casino play in New York. That could be less defined, however, as parts of federal law on the subject of tribal gaming authorities offering such gaming on lands they do not control are unsettled.

Regardless of how far apart the two sides are and on what matters they disagree, they have a few months to try to work their differences out. Even if they came to an agreement very soon, that compact wouldn’t become final until the first quarter of 2025 at the earliest.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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