BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The gaming compact which allows the Seneca Nation of Indians to operate three casinos in Western New York expires in December 2023. State records show lobbyists representing gaming rival Delaware North have been speaking with state officials about that compact.

A firm representing Delaware North lobbied four officials from the Division of the Budget in late 2021 and a Gaming Commission official in early 2022. “Seneca Nation Compact” is the focus listed as the focus in JCOPE lobbying reports.

The lobbying filings were first reported by the Albany Times-Union last week.

“Like others in our industry, Delaware North retains registered lobbyists to meet with regulators through the proper channels to discuss matters important to our business,” a spokesperson for Delaware North said. “These meetings are always reported to the joint commission on public ethics.”

But Seneca Nation of Indians President Matthew Pagels has concerns with the lobbying effort.

“Knowing through public documents that Delaware North is meeting with New York State and speaking on the Seneca Compact, that is definitely a conflict of interest,” Pagels alleged.

Delaware North’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel is former U.S. Attorney for Western New York Bill Hochul, the husband of Governor Kathy Hochul.

“Mr. Hochul is recused from all elements of our work in New York,” the Delaware North spokesperson said.

The day before Governor Hochul took office, she signed a letter recusing herself from “any and all matters relating to Delaware North” and promised not to use her job to benefit that company.

As it relates to the Seneca Nation and compact negotiations, a spokesperson for Governor Hochul said Monday, “Governor Hochul is committed to the strictest ethical standards and restoring trust in government. The Governor’s counsel will conduct a legal analysis of the circumstances to ensure compliance with recusal policies and applicable law.”

Seneca President Pagels says compact negotiations have not yet started.

“Good faith negotiations need to happen now,” he said last Friday.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.