Cuomo Prepares for Arbitration in Seneca Casino Dispute

Senecas say obligations fulfilled, Cuomo says Senecas don't want to honor compact

Tom Puckett
September 15, 2017 - 4:00 am

Niagara Falls, NY (WBEN) The dispute over the casino compact continues between the state and the Senecas. Thursday, Governor Cuomo put his two cents in.

Cuomo says there's been a history of disputes between the state and the Senecas over agreements, so this is nothing new. "My goal is to figure it out and get everything moving again," says Cuomo. The Senecas say their obligations have been fulfilled. "I've spoken to their leader, I see no desire on their part to live up to their agreement. They want to modify the agreement and seek to reduce the amount of money they want to pay, and that's why we are going into arbitration."

Cuomo says the arbitrator could make a recommendation, but he and his lawyers think the agreement is clear. "I think the Senecas want to reduce the payments, which I understand, but we have an agreement," adds Cuomo.

Watching this closely is Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. "I was encouraged the governor says the state's position is strong, but I was also encouraged he said we want to figure this out," meaning there's room for a settlement. He hopes it gets settled before arbitration.

One reason why is the city budget due October 1st. "We want to budget only revenues we only realistically expect to obtain during the year in question, and we assert our right to our share of Seneca revenue. They're still collecting money from slot machines. We don't want to send the signal we don't think a share of that money righfully belongs to us," adds Dyster.

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