Cuomo, Seneca Nation of Indians announce landmark agreementby jmaloni
Seneca Nation to resume $135 million in annual payments to state, pay total of $408 million in past payments; local governments will receive past full funding
State will enforce exclusivity zone - new dispute resolution process to deal amicably with future disagreements
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement between New York state and the Seneca Nation of Indians that resolves a multi-year dispute between the state and the nation.
With today's agreement, the state of New York recognizes and reconfirms the exclusivity of Seneca casino operations in the Western New York region, and the Seneca Nation agrees to resume payments and to make pro-rated repayments for past amounts that were in dispute.
Under the agreement, the local governments in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the Salamanca area will receive their full 25 percent share of local impact payments, a total of $140 million. Buffalo will receive $15.5 million, Niagara Falls will receive $89 million, and the Salamanca area will receive $34.5 million. New York state and the Seneca Nation will equally split 75 percent of $560 million in past payments from Seneca casino operations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca.
The total to New York state and local governments from these and other regulatory payments is $408 million. The Seneca Nation will retain $209 million and resume its ongoing payments from casino operations to the state totaling about $135 million annually. The governor will support the exclusion of the Western New York Zone from the bidding for any commercial gaming legislation. The state will enforce the Western New York exclusivity zone for casino gaming, and a new dispute resolution process will be put in place to deal amicably with future disagreements. The Seneca Nation recognizes the right of the existing video lottery facilities at racetracks in Western New York to continue to operate and the State Gaming Commission will take steps to enforce exclusivity rules in the marketing and operation of those facilities.
"This agreement is a win-win-win: a win for the local governments of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca; a win for the Seneca Nation, whose exclusivity will be honored; and a win for all New Yorkers with hundreds of millions of dollars coming to the state now and for the future," Cuomo said. "This agreement marks the beginning of a new chapter between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state, built on trust and mutual respect. I commend (Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr.) and the leadership of the nation for their hard work in helping reach this landmark agreement."
Snyder said, "Gov. Cuomo did not start the dispute between the Seneca Nation and New York state, however, he has worked with the nation to make the compact 'whole' once again. This agreement is in the best interest for all parties involved, and will ensure our Western New York gaming facilities will continue our exclusivity, and that local governments in our region benefit from the casino revenue. We commend the governor for his leadership so that both parties could come together to reach a fair and reasonable resolution on our disagreements."
State Sen. George D. Maziarz said, "Today's agreement has been a long time coming, and I want to sincerely thank Gov. Cuomo and President Snyder for sitting down at the table to negotiate a settlement that both sides are happy with. In the City of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital and Niagara Falls City School District were among the helpless victims of this dispute, hindering development and improvement. Today's agreement paves the way to end decades of litigation and gets millions of dollars back into the community."
State Sen. Catharine Young said, "It has been a long and difficult haul, but we have reached a positive destination. We are ecstatic with the news that the state and the nation have reached a positive resolution. It solves our local concerns and makes the City of Salamanca, school district and Cattaraugus County whole, which is an enormous relief. The casino is an economic driver for our region, because it employs so many people and draws so many tourists. Gov. Cuomo and the Seneca Nation, especially President Barry Snyder and the Tribal Council, are to be commended for their willingness to come together in the spirit of cooperation. By working together, we will make great strides towards economic growth and a brighter future."
State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "With today's announcement, we ensure the Seneca Nation of Indians remains an important driver in the economic future of Western New York, and we make certain the host communities of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca receive their fair share of support. The path of economic cooperation shared between Western New York and the Seneca Nation stretches years and years into the past - and will now extend far into the future."
Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "I am so happy with the culmination of this agreement. I support Gov. Cuomo and appreciate his continued leadership in helping to bring this to a close. This resolution is great for the City of Buffalo."
Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio said, "This negotiated deal is important to the Seneca Nation of Indians and to the people of the Southern Tier and of Western New York. Not only will the release of benefits under this agreement greatly impact the City of Salamanca, the Salamanca City School District and Cattaraugus County, but it protects and respects the sovereignty and exclusivity rights of the Seneca Nation for many years to come. This amicable solution is the result of sensitive negotiation and hard work, and I'm very pleased with the outcome."
Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak said, "I am very glad that the state and the Seneca Nation have reached an agreement. This agreement will maintain the Seneca Nation's exclusivity to have three casinos in Western New York per the original compact, and will assure that all funding is distributed to the host communities."
Assemblyman John Ceretto said, "This agreement between the state and the Seneca Nation is great news for Western New York and Niagara Falls. My top concern was that Niagara Falls receive the money that it is rightfully owed. Niagara Falls desperately needs this infusion of money to improve its economy and create jobs. This agreement accomplishes that goal, and I am happy to endorse it. The people of Western New York expect their leaders to get things done, and today we have delivered results."
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "Today's agreement ensures cooperation going forward, which will benefit all Western New Yorkers. My thanks to Gov. Cuomo for his steadfast determination in ensuring a resolution to this dispute, and to the Seneca Nation for their willingness to pursue progress on this issue."
Paul Dyster, mayor of Niagara Falls, said, "This agreement is great news for the City of Niagara Falls and all of Western New York. It will ensure this much-needed revenue benefits our city and this dispute is finally behind us. We could not be here today without the leadership of Gov. Cuomo, and I commend him and President Snyder for their work in reaching this historic agreement."