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Arbitration panel to settle Seneca dispute over casino payments

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A three-person arbitration panel will settle a long-standing dispute between the Seneca Nation of Indian and New York State over casino revenue payments. 

The Senecas have withheld more than $450 million in payments to the state, because it believes New York has violated its 2002 exclusive rights gaming compact by allowing for gaming devices at so-called racinos, like the Hamburg Fairgrounds and Batavia Downs. 

The dispute has held up around $60 million dollars in payments to Niagara Falls, where the tribe operates a large casino/hotel complex, as well as money for the host communities of Buffalo and Salamanca. 

The arbitration panel, which will be chaired by former state New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye, will begin work next month.  One panel member, University of Arkansas Law School Dean and Professor of Law Stacy Leeds, has been chosen by the Senecas, while the other, Henry Gutman of the Simpson Thacher firm, has been selected by the state. 

In a statement, Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter says, "The Nation looks forward to the fair and just resolution of this important matter."

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