The Seneca Nation and the state of New York appear to be heading into another dispute, this time over a proposed gas station and convenience store at the tribe's casino in Niagara Falls.
President Robert Odawi Porter slammed the director of state operations for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for claiming that the Class III compact only allows activities “traditionally associated” with gaming at the site of the Seneca Niagara Casino
"That conclusion is not consistent with the development that has occurred thus far at our Niagara Falls Territory and to suggest otherwise is revisionist bordering on the absurd," Porter said in response.
The compact was allowed to go into effect by the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Bush administration.
Generally, non-gaming related provisions in a compact are not enforceable under the
Gaming Regulatory Act.
According to The Niagara Falls Reporter, the compact authorizes “any form of Class III Gaming on Nation lands pursuant to this Compact; provided, however, that this Compact shall apply to operation of such enterprise, business or activity only to the extent that such operations are directly related to Class III Gaming undertaken by the Nation pursuant to this Compact.”
The language appears to suggest that the compact only regulates gaming-related activities -- just as Porter argues.
Another reading, apparently favored by the state, could mean that the compact only authorizes activities "directly related" to Class III gaming.
But even in this instance, Porter said a gas station and a convenience store qualifies as a service consistent with a casino.
Porter's statement appears in full below:
“For the second time in less than a week, the Cuomo administration sent me a letter based on slipshod or non-existent research and geared toward misrepresenting something about me or my family in an effort to embarrass the Nation in the media. We would much prefer to discuss these issues directly and in a professional manner, not through the media. Thus I have written a response to Gov. Cuomo.
“A preliminary RFP is just that. There are dozens listed on Seneca Gaming’s web site at any given time, as this is a vibrant business that employs some 2,500 Western New Yorkers and supports countless vendors who want to do business with us.
“The Seneca Nation, however, does not read the language in the compact as narrowly as Mr. Glaser appears to be offering. And the Nation does not read it in a vacuum or with complete indifference to what is offered at other gaming facilities across the United States. Even a basic Google search will reveal that it is not uncommon for casino facilities to offer a variety of non-gaming amenities to its patrons. Indeed, hotels, restaurants, snack bars, lounges, retail offerings, gas stations, RV parks and convenience shopping are located on-site at many Indian and non-Indian gaming facilities across the country.
“Mr. Glaser appears to believe that the compact prohibits the Nation from offering non-gaming amenities if they compete with other comparable offerings nearby. That conclusion is not consistent with the development that has occurred thus far at our Niagara Falls Territory and to suggest otherwise is revisionist bordering on the absurd.
“As for Mr. Glaser’s condescending reference to following the letter of the 2002 compact, the Nation always has and will continue to do so. We would call upon the state to follow its own advice and cease violating that compact by allowing casinos at Hamburg, Batavia and Finger Lakes, any one of which is far more impactful than a convenience store.
“Mr. Glaser misrepresented in his letter that he and I have had meetings that have resulted in an agreement among us that would result in direct payments of a local share to the host communities. Actually, Mr. Glaser’s November 2011 letter to me simply indicated that if the Nation were to pay directly to the local governments ‘the full local share’ from the amounts the Nation is holding in escrow, ‘the State would ensure, through legislation or otherwise, that any advance paid to the locality is credited against the determined obligation.’ An offer from a staffer to seek legislation is far from an ‘agreement’ between the two governments. We did agree in the compact that the state would compensate the local host communities even if the state were to breach the exclusivity obligations and thus no longer receive state contribution payments.”
“In July 2011, Gov. Cuomo indicated that he respected the Nation and its sovereignty and he committed to working with the Nation to solving problems, including meeting with me ‘in the near future.’ To date, the governor has not offered to meet with any Nation officials. Rather than continuing to let subordinates mismanage the state’s relations with the Nation through media diplomacy, when can we expect the governor to follow through on last year’s commitment to become personally involved in meeting with Nation officials to address issues of mutual concern?”
Get the Story:
State questions Senecas' gas station plan at Falls casino
(The Buffalo News 8/10)
Seneca leader blasts Cuomo aide
(The Albany Times-Union 8/9)
Anti-casino group cautions Senecas
(Buffalo Business First 8/9)
Seneca Nation not worried about
off-reservation casino lawsuit (8/8)