Indianz.Com > News > Seneca Nation signs extension of Class III gaming compact with New York
Rickey Armstrong, Sr. and Kathy Hochul
From left: Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. and New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) shake hands after signing an extension of the Class III gaming compact between the Seneca Nation and the State of New York on December 1, 2023, in Buffalo, New York. Photo: Governor Kathy Hochul
Seneca Nation signs extension of Class III gaming compact with New York
Monday, December 4, 2023

The Seneca Nation has reached an extension of its Class III gaming compact with the state of New York.

The extension was signed following a face-to-face meeting between Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. and New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D). The meeting took place in Buffalo — in Seneca territory — on Friday.

“Over the last several weeks, our discussions with New York State, including face-to-face meetings with Governor Hochul, have centered, in part, on the potential extension of our current Compact, especially as the December 9 expiration gets ever closer,” Armstrong said in a statement after the signing. “As a result of those discussions between our governments, the Seneca Nation and New York State have agreed to a short-term extension of our current Compact. As important, we have agreed to continue negotiations on a new Compact.”

The compact was set to expire on December 9. The extension keeps the government-to-government agreement going until March 31, 2024.

“With the signing of this agreement, there is important momentum for negotiations around the compact,” Hochul said in a statement on Friday. “I remain committed to working with President Armstrong and the Seneca Nation in finalizing an agreement that is fair to all parties, and I look forward to more conversations in the coming weeks and months as we continue to meet.”

The tribe and the state had reached a new Class III gaming compact in principle in early June, following nearly a year of negotiations. But state lawmakers refused to take action to ratify the agreement.

“Over 20 years, the Seneca Nation’s gaming operations have generated more than $2 billion for the state and more than $500 million for local governments — revenues that have been transformational for our partners in Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo,” Armstrong said on June 16. “We employ thousands of Western New Yorkers, and have provided thousands of union construction jobs. A decision not to bring this legislation to a vote is a decision to allow our compact to expire. It is a decision to throw 5,000 Western New York jobs into peril.”

“It is a decision to jeopardize the well-being of more than 8,000 Seneca individuals and families. And it is a decision to disregard federal law,” Armstrong continued. “The Seneca Nation will not sit idly by while the State once again fails its obligations to Native Nations.”

Seneca Nation Class III Gaming Compact Statements – June 2023
Seneca Nation Reaches Agreement in Principle on New Gaming Compact (June 7, 2023) [PDF]
Seneca Nation Reacts to NYS Assembly Decision to Ignore Compact Authorization Vote (June 16, 2023) [PDF]

At the time, Armstrong said Hochul’s office had failed to take an active role in securing ratification of the compact at the state level. On Friday, the governor committed to “working towards a long-term resolution” of the gaming agreement.

“In our discussions, Governor Hochul has expressed a desire to reset the relationship between our governments. No issue is of greater importance to the economies of Western New York and the Seneca Nation than a fair Compact,” Armstrong said in his new statement. “Tens of thousands of individuals, families and businesses across Western New York are depending on an agreement that secures the significant jobs, business opportunities, and economic benefits the Seneca Nation delivers to the Western New York economy.”

“The short-term extension of our Compact is an important step, but even more important work remains to be done,” Armstrong said. “The Seneca Nation remains committed to negotiating honestly and directly with New York State on a Compact that provides a fair and equitable economic and competitive environment for our gaming operations and the many people who depend on them.”

The tribe operates three Class III gaming facilities in New York. Class III games include slot machines, table games, card games and similar offerings.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes can only offer Class III games pursuant to a Class III compact with a particular state. The agreement must be reviewed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs before it becomes legal.

The extension signed by the Seneca Nation and the state of New York on Friday includes an automatic renewal provision. That means the Class III gaming compact will continue to renew unless one of the parties decides not to renew it, or a new agreement is reached.