You really don’t want to mess around with a New Yorker; especially not if he’s New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The second-generation governor (his father, Mario Cuomo, served as the state’s leader for three terms, from 1983 to 1994) is telling the Seneca Nation of Indians that he’s not bluffing when he says he will put a state-owned casino into the Niagara Falls area if the tribe won’t reach an agreement with New York via arbitration.

Cuomo has told the tribe in no uncertain terms that their “exclusivity franchise” in Western New York State is over unless they can come to a mutually attractive agreement.

It’s All About the Money

Not surprisingly, the dispute centers around the green stuff; apparently, the Seneca Nation has refused to pay up some $600 million in revenues that Cuomo says is due the state in taxes from its Niagara Falls, Salamanca, and Buffalo properties. The tribe has retorted that it owes New York’s coffers nothing, saying that Albany broke the rules (that the Seneca’s had exclusive slot rights) when it allowed numerous racinos in the area to set up slot machines.

Cuomo’s reaction to that is that, even if they have a point, the Senecas need to pay up to both New York and the three cities involved. You just don’t try to cheat the government hand that allows you to operate a virtual monopoly and not give them a little sumpin-sumpin for their efforts, you know?

Not Kidding Around

Cuomo’s playing hardball with the tribe; speaking recently to The Buffalo News, the governor reiterated he is “very serious” about a plan to bid out gambling rights if the Indians don’t pony up their dough (and that’s even if it’s without the legal blessings of arbitration panel judge Judith S. Kaye, a former chief judge of New York State.)  In a slightly more conciliatory tone, he added that he’s hoping both sides can come to some sort of resolution “before the casino decision is made,” adding that a coming-together of all parties would be in “everyone’s best interest.”

Just to make sure everyone knows he’s serious, the governor added a time caveat about the bid-out possibility. “That could come within two months. That has put the pressure on the situation,” he stated.

Can you say “Payable to the State of New York”?