There have been some new developments in the discussions on a new gaming compact between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State's administration. When negotiations started in June 2023, it was reported that the new compact would include the launch of a casino in Rochester. However, it is now stated that such a plan has been abandoned.
The two sides only recently restarted compact talks but the leak about the possible Seneca Nation casino in Rochester was not well received from local communities. It was revealed that Gov. Kathy Hochul's office did not brief Rochester lawmakers about the provision. Then discussions paused, as the Governor did not receive authorization to enter a new compact agreement.
Casino Plan Now Scrapped
However, the latest reports find that the provision for a Rochester gaming establishment owned by the tribe has now been left out of the compact negotiations. It seems that after the announcement of the preliminary agreement between the two sides, they met again and decided to remove the gaming amenity project from the discussions due to the backlash.
In a statement, the tribe said that the agreement of a fair and equitable contract is its priority and that it should go for the state as well. Its statement read that recently New York presented an unreasonable, unfair, and unacceptable proposal that was far different than the position when negotiations were paused in June 2023. And it stated that this kind of game cannot resume.
The current compact expires in less than 120 days but the tribe remains optimistic that it will be enough time to strike a new agreement with the state. Also, once a deal is found, the Department of Interior needs to approve it. But if the two parties fail to reach a deal before December 9, 2023, it may be required for the state to introduce provisions for the tribe to keep the current contract going.
In addition to that, Gov. Hochul's office also provided a statement saying that the administration is currently working with the tribe to make sure that the agreement is fair. She also wants to make sure that the deal serves in the best interest of all parties and addresses the requirements of key stakeholders, and that her office is eager to find a suitable middle ground.
Criticized for the Negotiations
It should be also mentioned that a while back Gov. Hochul vowed that she would recuse herself from the negotiations due to a potential conflict of interest. This is due to the fact that her husband works for a rival firm of Seneca. Still, she became the subject of criticism by the tribe's President Rickey Armstrong Sr. for failing to communicate the discussion with relevant state lawmakers and Rochester officials.
Assemblymember Harry Bronson was among the lawmakers to express his concern about the lack of transparency in the late-night revelation of a potential casino in downtown Rochester. He shared that when he reached out to Hochul's office, he was told that a non-disclosure agreement prevented discussion, which he found inappropriate at the time.
Source: Benson, Nate “Rochester casino now off the table as compact negotiations continue between state and Seneca Nation” WGRZ, August 15, 2023