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Cayuga Nation files lawsuit over mobile lottery system administered by New York State: Demands 60% of net revenue

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

The Cayuga Nation has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York after the New York State Gaming Commission failed to respond to two demands from Nation Counsel to stop unlawful gaming activity on the Nation’s Reservation land. 

The Nation says it is authorized by the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 to exclusively regulate the conduct of gaming on Indian lands, and the IGRA preempts any State regulation or control of the same. Congress enacted the IGRA to carve out exclusivity for Indian gaming in an effort to afford Indian nations a means of economic independence. The National Indian Gaming Commission is the federal regulator of Indian gaming and, in 2003, approved the Cayuga Nation to exclusively conduct gaming operations on the Nation’s Reservation, which has grown to include four Class II gaming casinos with electronic bingo and other related gaming operations. 


“In contravention of the Nation’s exclusive right to conduct gaming within the Nation’s Reservation, the State has licensed numerous lottery and instant game terminals within the Nation’s Reservation. Yet, such gaming requires approval by the Nation’s Gaming Commission and, under federal law, an agreement between the State and the Nation for the Nation to receive at least 60% of the net revenues from the State licensed games,” Cayuga Nation officials said in a press release Thursday.

The Nation uses the gaming revenue to provide government services to its citizens. They also contend that over the years, NYSGC has unlawfully authorized lottery and instant gaming within the Nation’s Reservation without providing the required compensation from the revenue of those games. Most recently, NYSGC issued a license to a company, Jackpocket, Inc., to sell New York state lottery tickets within Reservation lands on mobile devices—allowing the violations to reach a larger number of New Yorkers. 


Clint Halftown, a member of the Cayuga Nation’s governing council and the Nation’s federally recognized representative, explained the importance of bringing an end to the State’s unlawful conduct stating: “The Nation has robust gaming operations throughout the Reservation and uses the revenue to provide life-changing government benefits to Cayuga citizens. New York State’s practice of authorizing lotteries on Reservation land causes grave concern to the Nation’s rights and ability to provide for Nation citizens,” he said. “The Cayuga Nation has a responsibility to enforce its federally approved gaming ordinance and stop all unlawful gaming within the Reservation, whether by the State or private individuals. The Cayuga Nation Council will not ignore the State’s gaming, especially the expansion to mobile gaming and the license to Jackpocket Inc.” 

The Nation’s attorneys sent correspondence in the Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 attempting to discuss these issues with NYSGC and Jackpocket, Inc. After receiving no response, the Cayuga Nation Council directed the filing of this lawsuit. The Nation says it hopes this suit will alert NYSGC and licensees that the Nation will enforce its exclusive gaming rights to provide for the Cayuga people.