Arbitration between Seneca Nation and New York State begins; casino dispute to be resolved

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Arbitration hearings between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians over casino revenue payments began in New York City Wednesday morning.

The two sides have been at odds for more than a year over the interpretation of a gaming compact they signed in 2002. The compact, which expires in 2023, specifies how much money the nation is required to kick back to the state in the first 14 years of the agreement. It does not specify what the nation owes after the 14-year mark.

A spokesperson for the Seneca Nation said hearings could wrap up on Thursday. The panel of three arbitrators will then issue a decision. There is no timetable for that decision to be made, the spokesperson said.

In the first 14 years of the agreement, Seneca officials say they have sent $1.4 billion dollars to Albany. Some of that money ends up getting kicked back to communities with Seneca casinos, like Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

In September, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state would forward the City of Niagara Falls $12.3 million to help fill a budget gap created by the dispute.

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