NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – The threat of new, privately run casinos just across the river in New York State seems to be over.
New York State announced Thursday it has reached a deal with the Seneca Nation, which operates casinos in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Salamanca and Buffalo.
Seneca Nation, which had been withholding hosting payments from local governments, agreed to release hundreds of millions of dollars. In exchange, the state has agreed to honour an exclusivity zone for the Seneca Nation, meaning no privately operated casinos will be allowed in Western New York.
There had been worries here in Ontario about the impact more competition on the U.S. side of the border could have on the two commercial casinos in Niagara Falls, Ont.
“This agreement is a win-win-win; a win for the local governments of Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca, a win for the Seneca Nation whose exclusivity will be honored, and a win for all New Yorkers with hundreds of millions of dollars coming to the State now and for the future,” said New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“This agreement marks the beginning of a new chapter between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State, built on trust and mutual respect. I commend President Barry Snyder and the leadership of the Nation for their hard work in helping reach this landmark agreement.”
Niagara Falls, N.Y. Mayor Paul Dyster, whose community will receive nearly $90 million, said he’s relieved the dispute with the Seneca Nation is over and his city can move forward.
“This agreement is great news for the City of Niagara Falls and all of Western New York,” said Dyster.
“It will ensure this much-needed revenue benefits our city and this dispute is finally behind us. We could not be here today without the leadership of Governor Cuomo, and I commend him and President Snyder for their work in reaching this historic agreement.”
The revenue sharing breaks down this way:
- the local governments in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and the Salamanca area will receive their full 25 per cent share of local payments – a total of $140 million. Buffalo will receive $15.5 million, Niagara Falls will receive $89 million, and the Salamanca area will receive $34.5 million;
- New York State and the Seneca Nation will equally split 75 per cent of $560 million in past payments from Seneca casino operations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca.
- The total to New York State and local governments from these and other regulatory payments is $408 million;
- The Seneca Nation will retain $209 million and resume their ongoing payments from casino operations to the State totalling about $135 million annually.
Meanwhile, Seneca Nation has also announced it plans to hire an additional 300 full- and part-time employees in the coming weeks.
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