Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 9, 2013

Cuomo gives the Senecas an ultimatum

Niagara Gazette — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given the Seneca Nation of Indians an ultimatum: Resolve the dispute with the state or Western New York will be fair game for a non-Indian casino.

Cuomo said that Western New York would be listed as a possible location for a new casino in his plan to expand gaming upstate if the Senecas do not resolve the dispute with the state over the exclusivity clause in the 2002 gaming compact between the parties by the end of the legislative session on June 20. Cuomo made the comments during a question and answer session after discussing details of his  plan for casino expansion during a tourism summit in Albany.

"The answer at one point is either yes or no," Cuomo said in reference to negotiating a settlement with the Senecas. "I'm a patient person. I'll talk as long as you want to talk. But, at one point the decision factors aren't going to change."

A Cuomo press officer provided the Gazette with an audio recording of the press conference.

Attempts to reach representatives from the Senecas were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon.

The dispute went to an arbitration panel last year and lawmakers have repeatedly said they expect that process to wrap up by mid-year.

Cuomo aims to complete his plan in time for legislators to vote on it during this session so that it can be put to the polls in a referendum in November.

The governor needs to know what regions will be eligible for non-Indian casinos before he can present a plan, he said.

"For the legislation to work we need certainty and we need closure," Cuomo said. "We're going to need to know what we're doing in those regions."

Niagara Falls is owed over $60 million of the approximately $600 million that the Senecas have withheld from the state since the dispute began in 2009. The Indian tribe contends that "racinos" in the exclusivity zone provide gaming that violates the contract.

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