New York Casinos Form Coalition for Fairness in Gaming Compact Negotiations

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A coalition of New York-based commercial casinos and racetrack venues has formed. The group came together to ensure their interests are considered in the ongoing negotiations for a new gaming compact between the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The coalition, named “Fair Compact for All,” comprises representatives from various New York casino venues and racetracks. That includes del Lago Resort & Casino (pictured), Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, Hamburg Gaming, and Batavia Downs.

“We cannot and will not tolerate any middle-of-the-night deals that lack transparency, public input, and data-driven economic analysis,” said Gaming President and General Manager of Finger Lakes Chris Riegle.

“We welcome competition, but we can’t compete without a level playing field. We look forward to working with our coalition members, local elected officials, and representatives in Albany to secure a truly fair compact for all.”

The Coalition’s Stance

The coalition was formed to ensure representation in the ongoing compact negotiations between the Seneca Nation and the State of New York. The current compact grants the tribe exclusive rights to operate Las Vegas-style slot machines and table games west of State Route 14, but it is nearing its expiration on December 9.

The coalition emphasizes the significant contributions its casino operators make to the state, highlighting the employment of more than 3,500 New Yorkers and the generation of close to $180 million annually in state gaming taxes.

Previous negotiations resulted in a surprise deal announcement in June. However the backroom nature of the discussions and the inclusion of a potential casino for the Seneca in Rochester, New York, led to widespread condemnation from locals and by the end of June, the deal was scrapped.

The failed compact would have seen a reduction in the tribe’s slot tax from 25% to 19.5% to sweeten the deal. But that isn’t the competing casino’s biggest concern.

The coalition’s primary aim is to prevent the opening of this fourth casino in Rochester, as they feel that the regions of upstate and Western New York are already oversaturated with gaming venues.

Now that New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who had previously excused herself from the negotiating process, is back at the table, a new deal could be forthcoming. Only now, the state’s commercial casinos want a say in the discussion process.

Seneca Nation’s Perspective

The Seneca Nation, on the other hand, has been clear about its position.

“Competing gaming interests now want to insert themselves and their anti-Seneca sentiment into government-to-government negotiations between the Seneca Nation and New York State,” said Seneca President Rickey Armstrong Sr.

“Although it has been nearly 60 days since our last negotiation meeting, we look forward to the State re-engaging in discussions soon.”

In response to the coalition’s demands, the Seneca Nation emphasized the significant economic impact of their operations. They account for thousands of local jobs and contribute more than $1 billion annually to the region’s economy.

The tribe operates three casinos: Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino, and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.

The tense negotiations also come at a time when downstate New York is preparing to issue three new casino licenses. Over 2023 so far, dozens of international operators, investment firms, and billionaire individuals have put forth projects for consideration. The New York State Gaming Commission recently answered operator’s questions as it prepares to open the bidding process.

Regulated online casinos in the Empire State are not likely to be part of any discussions for a while yet. That’s because of the prospect of a three new casino resort revenue streams and the continuing $50 million a month in taxes from the booming New York online sports betting market.

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