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Senecas take casino dispute forward after ruling that they need to pay NYS

The Seneca Nation of Indians is calling on the U.S. Department of Interior to review an arbitration panel’s decision in regards to an ongoing dispute over casino revenue sharing.

The panel ruled the Senecas are required to continue to pay a portion of slot machine revenue to the state, and also make two years in back payments. It was determined last week that those payments total more than $255 million.

The Nation, however, quickly indicated it did not plan to pay until it had explored legal options. Although the arbitration was the defined legal process to resolve disputes in their compact with the state, Seneca leaders believed this panel improperly amended the compact without permission in its ruling.

They said the panel created obligations to make payments for years 15-21 of the compact despite the fact those payments were not explicitly spelled out in the document.

“The Seneca Nation and the Seneca people deserve to have our agreements with other governments honored and protected, despite repeated and ongoing attempts to ignore, violate, and, in this case, blatantly change the agreements we have made. By exercising our right to request that the Department review the amendment, the Nation leadership is fulfilling our obligation to the Seneca people to always defend our sovereignty and the sanctity of our agreements,” President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. said.

He said, according to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, all amendments to compacts must be reviewed by the Secretary of the Interior before they can lawfully be enforced. It’s unclear if and when the federal government will take up the issue.

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