BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Representative Nick Langworthy is calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to provide a status update as the Dec. 9 deadline for a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation lurches closer.
The Seneca Nation’s current agreement with the state of New York, agreed to in 2002, is set to expire Dec. 9. Should that deadline pass without a new compact, Rep. Langworthy says, the Senecas’ three local casinos — and their some 1,000 jobs in Langworthy’s district alone — would be put in jeopardy.
“A lot of people would stand to be laid off right here in December, right at Christmas time. This is really a worst-case scenario. We’re trying to not put undue pressure or accuse anyone of anything, but just asking the governor for a status report because I’ve got very anxious constituents that are extremely worried about the future of the gaming compact,” Langworthy said.
Under the current compact, the Seneca Nation pays a portion of revenues on slot machines and other gaming devices to the state in exchange for gaming licenses and the exclusive rights to offer the gaming devices west of State Route 14.
“That compact expires, and these gaming licenses would be invalid at that point, so the casino really cannot operate without a license,” Langworthy said.
Langworthy said it is particularly essential that the Senecas get a fair deal from the state now that legalized gambling operations have developed on non-native lands across the state.
“The state has expanded gaming in territories that all go up against the service areas of these casinos,” Langworthy said.
The casinos are not only vital to the Seneca Nation, Langworthy said, but they also generate substantial tax revenue that is “critically important” for the Western New York communities where they operate.
“I don’t think gaming is the ideal scenario, and economic development should not be solely based on gaming, but it’s an important one that we’ve had here for years and years,” Langworthy said. “And it’s provided an awful lot of revenue that municipalities depend on, and paychecks that a lot of residents depend on.”
Should the Seneca Nation and the state come to an agreement, it must then be approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Langworthy said his office will be exploring the steps necessary for an expedited approval should the compact negotiations come down to the 11th hour.
“If you had an employer coming to town to announce a thousand new jobs it would be the lead story on the news tonight. The fact that we have a thousand jobs that could be put in jeopardy, that should be the lead story on the news as well,” Langworthy said.
Rep. Langworthy joined News 4’s Dave Greber and Jordan Norkus Friday afternoon to discuss the Seneca gaming compact and weigh in on the latest developments around embattled New York Rep. George Santos. You can watch the full interview in the video player above.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.