ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Seneca Nation of Indians is unhappy about the state setting up so-called "racinos" - or slot machines at racetracks - and are withholding payments the state says are owed.
Now Governor Andrew Cuomo is putting all the cards on the table and gambling on any future relationship with the Seneca Nation.
"We can either honor the contract or not," Cuomo stated. "My position is if your not paying the state under the contract, you don't get the benefits of the contract."
The Governor is giving the Seneca's an ultimatum: pay the half a billion dollars owed to New York State under the casino compact or state-run casinos could be built in areas, key to the Senecas' success, like here in Western New York.
Cuomo said, "They don't have an exclusivity zone if they're not paying."
Casinos in WNY draw an international audience. But once those people leave WNY, the money is gone, too. According to an article from the California State Library, building a casino would not have much of an economic impact and could hurt other businesses in the region.
Citizens Against Casino Gambling Co-Chair Joel Rose argued, "They hire goods and services, but it isn't nearly enough to compensate for the loss. I don't want to see any casino here."
Rose calls Governor Cuomo a "bully" and says he's not submitting this proposal in good faith.
"The Governor is not God," Rose said. "We're doing everything we can to head it off either way."
The Governor plans to 'let it ride' until next month, which will be his last chance to have the issue placed on November's ballot. That will allow all NYers to have a chance to vote the plan up or down.
"If we settle it then I'll honor my side of the bargain. They have an exclusivity zone. They want a site within that zone, that's in the contract. If we don't settle, we are going to bid that region, period," Cuomo asserted.
The Senecas owe Niagara Falls, specifically, $60 million. Mayor Paul Dyster believes a negotiated settlement is the best outcome. But should there be no settlement, the mayor says Niagara Falls should be on the short list for a state-licensed facility.
The Senecas would not comment.
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