Senator George Borrello introduces bill focused on fairness for NY’s Seneca Nation

June 6, 2023
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Senate Bill 7502 would require independent comptroller review of gaming compacts to circumnavigate potential government conflicts of interest.

New York Senator George Borrello has introduced a new bill that would require comptroller review, including either suggested modification or recommendation for approval, before any Tribal-state gaming compact may be submitted and approved federally. The Seneca Nation and state of New York are currently negotiating such a compact.

Governor Kathy Hochul is unable to participate in New York’s negotiations with the Seneca Nation due to a conflict of interest presented by her husband; William J. Hochul serves as SVP, Secretary and General Counsel to competing hospitality and gaming company, Delaware North.

However, Governor Hochul is still the only government official who can approve the Seneca Nation’s contract. The original compact was signed in 2002, and allowed the Tribe to develop the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino and the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.

Senator Borrello said, “The partnership between the Seneca Nation and New York’s executive branch has been strained for several years, largely over disagreements concerning revenue from Seneca casinos.

“Those tensions, combined with the Governor’s institutional role in the process which makes full recusal difficult, underscore the importance of a full and impartial review by the State Comptroller. This is a common-sense proposal that would improve the process and help ensure a fair outcome.”

The current contract has the Seneca Nation paying 25% of its slot and video lottery revenues to the state of New York, or about $100m yearly. The three Tribal gaming venues have created over 6,000 jobs and also impact Western New York’s economy with around $1bn per year.

Borrello added, “The delays and challenges [the Tribe] is encountering in the negotiating process are a significant concern. Their gaming facilities have transformed the economy of Western New York and they have been good partners to the state. They deserve a fair and equitable compact.”

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