New York’s gambling industry is expanding rapidly. Not long ago, this state approved plans to allow additional casinos and sports betting operations. Unfortunately, New York’s casino dispute with the Seneca Nation is still ongoing.
Lawmakers in New York are in a bitter disagreement with the Seneca over casino tax payments. Today, we’re going to look at what this dispute is all about. We’ll also talk about what state officials are doing to end it.
New York Lawmakers Approve Gambling Expansion Plans
In the past, New York was known as one of the least gambling-friendly states in the US. Lawmakers here showed very little willingness to open any form of gambling aside from tribal casino gaming. Over the past two years, however, state officials have begun to change their stance.
Several bills were presented here to significantly expand the state’s gambling industry. Much of these expansion plans focused on sports betting. With PASPA now gone, every state can set its own laws on the sports gambling industry. Several New York politicians began actively campaigning for sports betting to be made legal.
The state approved a sports betting bill in June. On July 16th, the first legal sports wager in New York was made by Gary Pretlow, a state lawmaker instrumental in getting this industry legalized and regulated. Today, most of the state’s casinos operate land-based sportsbooks. It’s proving to be an extremely lucrative industry, bringing in major revenue earnings through taxes.
In April, New York lawmakers also approved plans to add several new casinos to the upstate area. Several popular casinos already operate in this area, including Resorts World Catskills, which was recently sold to investors in Malaysia. Now, both tribal and commercial casinos are operating here. Online casinos in NY are still unregulated.
Unfortunately, officials are engaged in a major dispute with one of the largest tribal casino operators in the state.
New York’s Casino Dispute with Seneca Nation, Explained
For years, the Seneca Nation has operated a casino in Salamanca. Since first opening, this casino has been required to pay a 25% tax fee to the state on its revenue from the Class II bingo games it was able to offer. In March of 2017, the casino was given a Class III gambling license, granting it the power to offer slots and table games.
The tribe now believes that it’s no longer required to pay the 25% tax fee. Tribal leaders argue that this tax fee was only required from the Class II license. The Tribe believes that there was no provision stating that the revenue sharing would continue.
State officials obviously disagree. An official arbitration panel quickly ruled that the tribe owed $255 in back payments. The Seneca Nation is now working to fight this ruling in the courts. Unfortunately, this dispute is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
It’s taking a toll on the city of Salamanca, which relies on revenue from the casino to operate. Now, state officials are working on ways to help this city out.
New York Sends Salamanca $2.35 Million in Revenue Relief
New York’s casino dispute with the Seneca Tribe has been going on for years. During this time, the tribe has sent no money to Salamanca, where their casino is located. It’s a major disappointment for this city, which uses the money to fund social projects.
Government officials in New York have sent a check to Salamanca for $2.35 million. This city generally receives nearly $5 million in annual revenue from the Seneca casino. Kathy Sarver, City Comptroller of Salamanca, states that the rest of the money would also come from the state if the tribe does not agree to pay.
“If it is settled, then there won’t be any need to advance us any money because we’ll be getting the payments from the casino,” Sarver said. “It’s just an advance. If and when the casino compact issue is settled, we’ll have to pay the state back this money.”
It’s unclear exactly when this fight will end. Both the tribe and state officials believe that they are in the right.
Make sure to stay tuned for more updates to New York’s casino dispute with Seneca Nation over the next few months!