Buffalo, NY (WKBW)- An announcement was expected Thursday concerning the distribution of casino money to local host communities, but that announcement appears to be on hold. Media advisories were sent out Wednesday, stating there would be a casino revenue announcement Thursday morning, with state lawmakers and Seneca leaders, but was later cancelled. It was allegedly suppose to resolve a 2 year dispute with the state and the Seneca Nation.
Years ago, the Seneca Nation and New York State agreed upon a gaming compact. The Seneca Nation would distribute a portion of its casino revenue to the state, in exchange for exclusive rights to gaming devices in the region. The revenue would then be distributed to local host communities. In 2009, the Senecas stopped payment and claimed the state broke its agreement by allowing slots and other gaming devices at Western New York facilities not operated by the Seneca Nation.
"The state has been cheating us by operating illegal games like Moxy Mania," said Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter. "We seem to have people far off in another land making decisions and taking actions that are undermining all of us in Western New York."
Porter says he sent a letter to the state in February, expressing interest in providing casino dollars directly to host communities like Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Salamanca, and others, but never received a response from the Cuomo Administration. Porter added he received a letter a few days ago from the state's director of operations. The letter apparently expressed interest into the idea of direct distribution, but the state added it would prefer the whole issue to go to arbitration. Seneca Leaders say the state's lack of initiative to negotiate is leaving communities out tens of millions of dollars. To date, the Senecas have withheld more than $300 million in casino revenue. At this point the Seneca Nation says enough is enough and it will move towards arbitration to help settle the issue.