Langworthy Joins Call For New Seneca Nation Compact

Surrounded by other Seneca Nation officials in June, President Rickey Armstrong Sr. announces an agreement in principle with New York state on a new casino gaming compact. That agreement fell apart a few days later, and area elected officials are asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to jump-start negotiations on a new agreement as the old compact expires on Dec. 9. P-J file photo by M.J. Stafford

U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-23, is the latest elected official to call on Gov. Kathy Hochul to move quickly on a new gaming compact for the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The region’s congressional representative recently sent a letter to the governor asking for an update as the compact’s Dec. 9 expiration approaches. In addition to requiring state Legislature approval, a new compact has to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of the Interior before it goes into effect.

“We are just weeks away from the expiration of the state’s gaming compact with the Seneca Nation, and we’ve been left in the dark by Governor Hochul,” Langworthy said. “Over a thousand jobs in my district and the Seneca Nation are dependent on this compact, and these employees deserve to know if their jobs are safe or if their gaming licenses are in jeopardy. Whether it’s a new compact or an extension of the current compact, Governor Hochul must provide a timely update.”

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, wrote a similar letter to Hochul in mid-October as a follow-up to a September 20 letter urging Hochul to re-start negotiations with the nation on a new gaming compact. Borrello noted the nation’s $1 billion impact on the Western New York economy and the workers who depend on the casinos for employment as reasons to wrap up a new agreement allowing the Seneca Nation’s casinos to continue to operate.

“As the only New York State official who can approve a gaming compact between the state and the Seneca Nation, it’s imperative that Gov. Hochul agree to a meeting with President Armstrong,” Borrello said. “President Armstrong has repeatedly asked the governor to sit down with him and negotiate an agreement in good faith that is fair and addresses the needs of all parties, yet she continues to avoid the bargaining table.”

Hochul had been part of the negotiations at arms’s length through most of the year due to her husband William Hochul’s business ties with Delaware North. William Hochul left Delaware North in August, placing Gov. Hochul back in the driver’s seat in negotiations with the Seneca Nation.

The original Seneca Nation Compact was authorized in 2002. The agreement cleared the way for the development of three Seneca casinos in Western New York. Terms of the compact included the Seneca Nation paying 25 percent, approximately $100 million per year, of the slot and video lottery machine revenue from the casinos to the state, with a portion of that money directed to each casino’s host city. In return, the compact granted the Seneca Nation exclusive rights to operate Class III casinos in Western New York.

A new compact was agreed upon earlier this year, but it included a fourth Seneca Nation casino that upset state legislators from the Rochester area when they weren’t told about the new casino, which they say would have competed with a casino with union employees in the Rochester area. Opposition from the Rochester-area lawmakers led Carl Heastie, D-Bronx and Assembly speaker, to back away from bringing the compact approval to the Assembly floor during a late June special session.


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