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State and Senecas settle casino dispute

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

The long stalemate between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State over casino gambling has been settled.

In a news conference heard live on WBFO,  Governor Andrew Cuomo and Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder announced the two sides had resolved the dispute and that millions of dollars in casino revenue will be paid to local municipalities.  In return, the Senecas will retain exclusive gaming rights in Western New York.

Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder and Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign an agreement ending a dispute over casino gaming.

Under the agreement, the City of Buffalo will receive $15.5 million in withheld casino revenue.  Salamanca will get $34.5 million and Niagara Falls will receive $89 million.

In return, the state will enforce and honor the Senecas' exclusivity for gaming in Western New York.

"The partnership has been renewed," Cuomo said.

The two sides have been at a standoff for several years over casino revenue sharing. 

The Senecas stopped casino slot revenue payments to Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca in 2009 saying the state broke its casino gaming compact with the Nation because it has allowed video lottery terminals at nearby racetracks. 

The issue has been in arbitration for months. But this week there was word that the two sides had been meeting to try and resolve the matter.

"I'm very thankful that we were able to overcome a lot of the obstacles and come up with some kind of  equatable agreement for the state of New York, Seneca Nation and also the local municipalities," Snyder said.

"This is a win, win, win," Cuomo said for local communities, the Seneca Nation and the people of New York State.

The news is being celebrated by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond
Niagara Falls Mayor Dyster leaving the agreement ceremony with Governor Cuomo with the Seneca Niagara Casino in the backdrop

"Having this dispute resolved means the City of Niagara Falls now moves to the forefront," Dyster said.

You can listen to the news conference with Howard Glaser, Director of State Operations, Governor Cuomo, Seneca President Barry Snyder, Senator George Maziarz and Mayor Paul Dyster.

Governor Cuomo and Seneca Nation make announcement in Niagara Falls.