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Grisanti optimistic casino revenue dispute will be resolved

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WBFO News file photo
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Seneca Niagara Casino, Niagara Falls, NY

The nearly three-year-long dispute between Albany and the Seneca Nation of Indians, which has cost some area cities millions of dollars, should be resolved in the coming months.

The Senecas have withheld nearly $460 million in casino revenue sharing payments to the state and the Cities of Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo since 2009 because the Senecas claim the state violated its exclusivity agreement by allowing slot machines at local horse racing tracks. 

After talks went nowhere, both sides agreed to a three-member arbitration panel to settle the issue.   

"It's binding arbitration, so what ever the outcome is, both side are going to have to live with it," said State Senator Mark Grisanti.

Grisanti says with the cities facing more budget cuts, he hopes a decision is made by the end of the year. Grisanti, who practiced law before entering politics, says arbitration is a very open process.

"There's not a lot of rules of evidence regarding certain factors, so it's a very open process. In my opinion, much more material is actually allowed into the process than let's say allowed into a courtroom," said Grisanti.

The Senecas will be represented by University of Arkansas Law School Dean Stacy Leeds and the state chose New York City Lawyer Henry Gutman.

The panel will be chaired by former State Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye.