ALBANY, N.Y. — New York State Senator George Borrello has introduced a bill allowing the State Comptroller to review and potentially amend tribal-state compacts. The proposed legislation aims to mitigate the current situation where the Governor alone holds the power to approve these compacts, an issue brought to light amidst the ongoing negotiations between the Seneca Nation and Governor Kathy Hochul's administration.
The Seneca Nation, with its casinos generating $1.3 billion in economic activity and sustaining over 10,000 jobs in Western New York, supports the bill. However, the New York State Gaming Commission opposes it, citing concerns that the proposed legislation might destabilize the gaming industry by undermining the Governor's authority.
The original compact, signed in 2002, enabled the development of three Seneca casinos in Western New York. The agreement required the Seneca Nation to contribute around $100 million a year to the state, constituting 25% of slot and video lottery machine revenues. In return, the Nation received exclusive rights to operate Class III casinos in Western New York.
Borrello expressed hope that his legislation would help soothe the strained relationship between the Seneca Nation and the New York State Executive Branch, mainly over disputes surrounding casino revenue. He considers the Seneca casinos a significant contributor to the Western New York economy and a beneficial partner to the state.
As the current compact is set to expire at the end of 2023, the Seneca Nation is lobbying for a new agreement before the end of the state legislature's session on June 8, 2023. The Governor has recused herself from the negotiations due to a personal conflict of interest, further underlining the need for the proposed legislation.