BUFFALO, N.Y. - There is a conflict and as of now there is no solution. The Seneca Nation of Indians stopped sharing revenue from its three casinos with municipalities. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul says, "We feel there's an obligation that has to be met," regarding payments.
Hochul said she understands members of the Seneca Nation are upset, but she said municipalities are as well. "We believe there's an obligation that has not been met with payments to municipalities and those communities deserve to have the money that's intended to come to them," she says. The payments have totaled more than $100 million dollars a year.
For 14 years, local communities have relied on casino revenue and one in particular, Niagara Falls, has relied heavily on the money for its budget.
Under the compact, the Senecas are allowed to operate three casinos in Western New York. The Senecas say the terms of the agreement only required them to make payments the first 14 years and that ended in 2016. It is why the Seneca Nation leaders believe they owe nothing at this time because they say "obligation fulfilled."
Governor Andrew Cuomo did not back down from saying the state may start looking at having a non-Indian casino in Niagara Falls if the Senecas don’t resume revenue sharing payments.
When 2 On Your Side's Claudine Ewing asked the Lt. Governor if the state would move forward with building casinos to compete with Seneca Niagara, she said "I believe that this situation will be in arbitration very soon and therefore I will not be commenting on that because there is a lot we don't know at this time."