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Seneca Nation dropping lawsuit against New York State, seeks new gaming compact

Seneca Nation will secure $40 million as part of the current compact, which expires at the end of 2023. New compact negotiations will begin in 60 days.

IRVING, N.Y. — The Seneca Nation is dropping its lawsuit against New York State and will begin discussions with the state over a new gaming compact.

Seneca Nation will secure $40 million as part of the current compact, which expires at the end of 2023. Negotiations will begin in 60 days.

Seneca Nation made the announcement Wednesday night with a video post on Facebook, as opposed to a large, in-person event citing COVID concerns.

"Our gaming enterprises were developed through the vision, commitment, and historic investment of the Seneca Nation," Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels said in a statement.

"They are a major economic driver and one of Western New York’s largest private-sector employers. They are also a primary source of funding for the important services we deliver to our community."

A message from President Pagels and Seneca Nation Council to our community:

Posted by Seneca Media & Communications Center on Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a statement Wednesday night, saying:

"I am pleased to have reached an agreement for the resumption of payments on terms that serve both the State and the Nation and that benefit Western New York communities, and I look forward to beginning discussions toward a new compact." 

Back in April, Seneca Nation announced that requested a 45-day federal stay concerning $1 billion in revenue sharing payments.

Pagels said the federal government invited both sides to submit to a 45-day regulatory review, adding that the state declined to do so.

At the time, then-governor Andrew Cuomo in February said it was time for the Senecas to pay the state what they owe. 

Cuomo said the Senecas owed $435 million to the state. Of that $435 million, $115 million would go to local governments, including Buffalo, Salamanca and Niagara Falls.

“Our highest priority, as always, is creating the strongest possible future for the Seneca Nation today and for generations to come," Pagels said. "A new Compact agreement, bolstered by greater federal scrutiny as a result of our efforts over the past four years, can ensure greater equity for the Nation, long-term stability for our gaming operations, and continued progress for the Seneca people.”

The original compact was signed by Seneca Nation in 2002. Today they employ around 3,000 workers.

He added: "Rather than pursue continued legal action, we believe we can now best address our concerns in a new Compact with greater clarity on our obligations, and, as important, the obligations New York State has to the Nation in return. Furthermore, we want to see the momentum generated by our investments and operations continue to grow, and we look forward to building on our strong relationships with our neighbors in Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo. Now is the time to move forward.”

2 On Your Side has reached out to Governor Hochul's office for comment but has not yet received a response.