The Seneca Nation owns and operates the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo, New York. Photo: Seneca Gaaming Corporation
Compacts | Meetings | New York

Seneca Nation slams governor of New York for repeatedly putting off gaming meetings



The Seneca Nation is firing back at the governor of New York for refusing to sit down and discuss gaming issues.

During a press conference on Tuesday, President Todd Gates said Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has canceled three scheduled meetings since March, when the tribe announced it would no longer share revenues with the state. At least two of the cancellations came at the last minute, according to Gates.

"Five months have gone by with no meeting," Gates said in the tribe's council chambers.

The latest occurred on Monday, with the governor's office telling the New York media that it would be "inappropriate" to meet in light of a criminal investigation tied to a listening device allegedly found at one of the tribe's buildings. But Dennis Vacco, an attorney hired by the tribe to look into the incident, found that explanation curious because he said he had informed the state earlier this year about it and kept key officials apprised over the last several months.

"I think that is highly inappropriate for the governor, or his staff, to have leaked this information about this investigation, to the extent there is an investigation," Vacco said.

Seneca Media and Communications Center on YouTube: Seneca Nation Press Conference 8/22/17

In addition to disclosing the investigation, Cuomo is threatening the tribe in another way. Unless the tribe agrees to share revenues again, he will authorize a non-Indian facility in Seneca territory, an unnamed official told The Buffalo News on Monday at around the same time the reports about the probe were posted online.

"That's a clear violation of the compact," Gates said of the threat.

The tribe's Class III gaming compact went into effect in 2002. It promises the tribe exclusivity within its territory in exchange for a sharing revenues with the state.

Since 2002, the tribe shared $1.4 billion with the state but the payments ended this year because the compact only required them for 14 years, Gates said. The other provisions, however, remain in effect, he said.

Rep. Tom Reed (R), whose district includes portions of Seneca territory, has offered to mediate the dispute, The Olean Times Herald reported. He has criticized Cuomo for canceling meetings with the tribe at the last minute.

Read More on the Story:
Seneca Nation president: Cuomo has ‘lame’ reason for canceling meeting (The Olean Times Herald August 23, 2017)
Reed seeks to mediate Cuomo’s squabble with Senecas (The Olean Times Herald August 23, 2017)
Senecas accused of spying on state, Cuomo hints at more casinos (The Albany Times-Union August 23, 2017)
NY threatens Seneca Nation of Indians over compact stalemate (The Newburgh Gazette August 23, 2017)
Lt. Gov. speaks on casino dispute (WGRZ August 23, 2017)
Cuomo, Senecas fail to meet, waging war of words (The Niagara Gazette August 22 2017)

A Native Perspective:
John Kane: Governor ignores casino compact wording and hurts communities (The Buffalo News August 18, 2017)

Related Stories:
New York governor refuses to meet with Seneca Nation amid gaming dispute (August 21, 2017)
Seneca Nation plans meeting with state to discuss future of gaming compact (August 9, 2017)
Seneca Nation willing to talk to state as gaming payments come to end (July 5, 2017)
Seneca Nation gaming corporation announces new top executive (June 1, 2017)
John Kane: Nothing is simple for tribes when dealing with New York (May 2, 2017)
Ernie Stevens: Seneca Nation keeps commitment to its neighbors (April 17, 2017)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state of New York (March 24, 2017)