New York Lawmaker Representing Seneca Land Urges Governor to Reach New Compact

Posted on: June 23, 2024, 11:21h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2024, 11:21h.

An outgoing state lawmaker in New York has had enough of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) lackadaisical approach to negotiating a new Class III gaming compact with the Seneca Nation.

New York Seneca compact Joseph Giglio
New York Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, a longtime friend of the Seneca Nation, celebrates the reopening of Interstate 86 between exits 21 and 23 in Salamanca, on Oct. 14, 2014. Giglio is retiring from public service, but before he leaves, he is asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to hastily work to reach a new gaming compact with the Seneca tribe. (Image: The Salamanca Press)

New York Assemblyman Joseph Giglio (R-District 148) has represented the southwestern portion of the upstate region since 2015. His district includes Seneca territory where three of its gaming properties operate.

Giglio is urging Hochul and Democratic leaders, the party with strongholds on both chambers of the New York State Legislature, to work quicker in reaching a new revenue-sharing agreement with the Seneca Nation.

I’ve spoken with Seneca Nation Council members who told me every time they think they have a deal, something happens that derails the talks. A new gaming compact is vital to our regional economy across Western New York,” Giglio told the Olean Times Herald.

The Seneca Nation’s gaming compact that provides the tribe exclusive rights to slot machines and live dealer table games west of State Route 14 in Upstate New York expired in December 2022. Since then, the tribe has directed 25% of its gross slot revenue to an escrow account.

Giglio is not seeking reelection. With the State Legislature adjourned for 2024, his legislative duties have ended, pending the possibility that Hochul could call a special session to approve a gaming compact.

Negotiations Slow

Hochul’s office and the Seneca Nation a year ago this month surprisingly announced a tentative agreement that would have initiated a new 20-year compact. A reduced slot tax rate and the authorization of a tribal casino in Rochester were reportedly included in the gaming terms.

The deal, however, stalled in the state Assembly after Rochester officials and state lawmakers representing the fourth most populated city in the state voiced opposition to a tribal casino. Those local officials said they should have been included in negotiations to bring a Las Vegas-style resort to the area.

Since the June 2023 tentative deal was folded on by the Assembly, talks regarding new terms have come to a standstill.

The tribe says a reduced tax is warranted after New York authorized four upstate commercial casinos in 2013 and three full-scale downstate casino licenses are likely to be awarded next year. The Senecas, Giglio says, deserve a new, fair deal that would allow escrow money to go to the many local towns that rely on it and allow the tribe to better prepare for its economic future.

It’s time for the executive branch negotiating team to come back to the table and negotiate in good faith with the Seneca Nation for the benefit of everyone in Western New York, both native and non-native,” Giglio said.

Seneca Nation casinos generate an annual impact of over $1 billion a year to the Western New York economy. The tribe’s casinos and gaming halls employ more than 6,000 people, with most being non-natives.

Automatic Extensions

After their 2023 compact was terminated, Hochul and the Seneca Nation agreed to automatically extend the expired compact quarterly until a new compact is reached. The next extension is scheduled for July 1.

Giglio’s district includes Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino, Seneca Gaming & Entertainment Salamanca, and Seneca Gaming & Entertainment Oil Spring.