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Talks between Seneca Nation, New York State stall as concern grows over Rochester casino impact

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  • Staff Report 

The proposed gaming compact between the Seneca Nation and New York State is facing considerable opposition due to plans for a new casino in Rochester, causing concerns among lawmakers and potential harm to ongoing negotiations.

State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt expressed dismay at the lack of Democratic support for the compact, which would primarily benefit Western New York cities. Ortt, whose district includes the Senecas’ largest casino in Niagara Falls, anticipates the negotiations will likely restart after the Assembly declined to authorize the deal.

The current compact, set to expire in less than six months, involves a revenue-sharing agreement with three cities, including Niagara Falls, where a quarter of the casino’s revenue is distributed to various local entities.

Without a new agreement or one that significantly reduces the current 25% slot machine revenue sharing, cities such as Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca risk losing tens of millions of dollars. Ortt warns of the potentially massive economic impact on vital services like hospitals, schools, housing, and the tourism industry.

Despite the opposition, some see a potential path forward. A joint statement from the Rochester delegation indicates progress towards an acceptable agreement.

Meanwhile, Niagara Falls Assemblyman Angelo Morinello believes the city, state, and Senecas are more aligned on the allocation of casino revenue, focusing on economic development to boost tourism and overall revenue.

Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr., expressed disappointment at the lack of agreement before the legislative recess but remained hopeful for a fair agreement in future negotiations.