BUFFALO, N.Y. - There still isn't a meeting scheduled between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state to talk about casino revenue.
As part of a gaming compact, the Seneca Nation used to give the state a cut of its slot revenues. The state would, in turn, pump that money back into Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca — three Western New York cities with Seneca casinos.
The Senecas stopped paying back in March, saying the revenue-sharing contract only required payments for 14 years — from the contract start in 2002 to 2016.
Though the compact itself was extended to 2023, the Senecas argue the payment obligation is over pending a new deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State.
"This has happened a number of times where they've had an agreement, signed an agreement, and then later on, they refused to pay. This is more of a pattern from the state's point of view," Cuomo said.
Two On Your Side's Heather Ly asked the governor what he would say to the Seneca Nation, which says it has already held up its end of the deal.
"That's not a fact. You can say that. It's not a fact. The agreement says they pay and continue to pay.
Heather Ly: They're disputing that.
Cuomo: Yeah, I know. They're wrong.
Cuomo said his office is in the process of setting up a meeting, and he said he hopes to resolve the dispute amicably.
Statement from Seneca Nation President Todd Gates:
“The Governor’s insults are both shameful and inaccurate. He seems to be as unfamiliar with the history of the Compact as he is with the legalities of the Compact. Let me remind Governor Cuomo that the State, not the Seneca Nation, has previously violated the terms and obligations of the Compact. The State’s previous actions led to an agreement by which the Nation retained more than $200 million of exclusivity funds in light of Albany’s non-compliance. The only pattern here is the trend of the State continuously ignoring the obligations of the Compact and assailing the character of the Seneca Nation.
For three months, I reiterated my willingness to meet with the Governor - a meeting that he requested. Last week, the Governor’s office finally reached out to begin discussing plans for a meeting. That same day, the Governor took to the media to attack our Nation’s character, an attack he repeated in the media again today. His media attacks serve no purpose and only seek to injure the Seneca people, including our youngest generations. The Seneca Nation will welcome dignitaries, veterans and visitors from Native nations across the country this weekend for our annual Pow Wow, making the Governor’s media attacks even more shameful. If the Governor is honest about having productive dialogue with the Seneca Nation, his skewed view and blatantly inaccurate rhetoric and insults are a poor way to move in that direction. As a leader, he should keep his discourse on a more honorable and respectful level.
In terms of the Compact, the facts – and the language – are black and white for the Governor and anyone else to see. A specific, 14-year revenue share obligation is clearly set forth for the Nation. The Seneca Nation faithfully and completely honored that obligation. That obligation has now ended. As uncomfortable as Governor Cuomo might be with that fact, the language remains the same today as it was in 2002. Feigning surprise and seeking to blame the Seneca Nation for understanding and following the Compact to the letter is nothing more than an attempt at distraction from the truth.”