The Seneca Nation of Indians wants the rights to develop a casino in downtown Rochester before it agrees to pay the state $572 million in gambling revenue currently tied up in a years-long dispute, according to a report in The Buffalo News.
Albany reporter Tom Precious reported Thursday that the Senecas are making a push for a Rochester casino as part of negotiations with the state, along with an extension of an exclusivity agreement that allows the nation to operate full-fledged casinos in western New York and further restrictions on the region’s racinos.
Both the Cuomo administration and the Seneca Nation declined to comment Thursday, citing a gag order in arbitration proceedings, which are being overseen by the state’s former New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye.
From The Buffalo News report:
”(The Senecas) are making these demands during arbitration proceedings, including a session held last week in Syracuse, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Senecas also have said they want to pay less than the $572 million they are holding in escrow for the state and the cities of Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo, where the tribe’s three casinos are located. The Senecas have argued that the state should be financially penalized for permitting what the Senecas believe are state-sanctioned violations of their casino compact by allowing banned forms of gambling in their casino exclusivity zone of Western New York.”
The dispute centers around the revenue-sharing payments to the state that have been held up by the Senecas, who claim the state has violated the existing exclusivity agreement by allowing certain types of gaming in race-track casinos.
It’s not the first time the Senecas have pushed for a casino in Rochester.
In September 2011, Robert Odawi Porter—then the president of the nation—testified at a Senate committee hearing, urging lawmakers to support granting the Senecas rights in the Monroe County city.
The Senecas had also reached out to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and then-Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy—now the state’s lieutenant governor—previously.