Seneca Nation Reportedly Negotiating With Hochul Administration For Rochester Casino

Yesterday, on June 12, officials familiar with the ongoing negotiations revealed that the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Hochul administration, aka the New York State governor’s administration, are quietly discussing a potential casino in downtown Rochester. In addition, this potential new casino would be part of the latest gaming compact signed between the tribe and New York state last week.

A bill authorizing the governor’s office to discuss a new compact with the tribe:

Hearing about the private talks last Friday, June 9, local Rochester leaders were stunned as the state Legislature prepared to validate legislation that would authorize the governor’s office to negotiate a new compact with the Western New York tribe that already has three casinos in the Buffalo area.

As the result, the legislation passed the Senate, but wasn’t validated in the Assembly due to concerns from Rochester leaders and surrounding gambling establishments about the impact a potential casino would have on the Rochester community. Specifically, the del Lago Casino in the Finger Lakes has nearly 1,000 union jobs represented by the powerful Hotel and Gaming Trades Council.

Commenting on rumors of a potential casino, Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) said in an interview Saturday with POLITICO: “I learned of it pretty late last night. I was extremely concerned about it. This is something that should be seriously discussed in an open and transparent way, and if the rumor is correct and they are considering potentially downtown Rochester or even in the surrounding area of Rochester, local folks should have a say in this.” However, the Hochul administration didn’t respond for comment. But, Bronson added: “When I reached out to Hochul’s office about the prospect of a Rochester casino being part of the compact, I was told it couldn’t discuss it because of a non-disclosure agreement, which is extremely inappropriate.”

Rochester and Monroe County – way to expand:

The tribe has long wanted to expand into Rochester and Monroe County to solidify its presence in Western New York. However, earlier the tribe never had any chance and did not bid on the open parcel of land in the heart of the city in 2016.

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Unsuccessful urging of the Assembly to approve the bill:

Furthermore, the Senecas have been adamant about the latest compact because the current one runs out at the end of the year, and the parties would need a law to authorize the governor’s office to sign off on the new 20-year compact. The Assembly ended its session on Saturday, but is projected to return in the coming weeks when the issue could be considered again.

On Wednesday, the Senecas reported an “agreement in principle” with the Hochul administration on a new compact, but refused to provide any details.

On Saturday, the tribe unsuccessfully called the Assembly to vote on the bill that would have given the administration the ability to “finalize and submit that agreement as required by federal law.” In this regard, in a statement, Seneca Nation president Rickey Armstrong Sr., said: “We have come to a fair deal with the State, and it is incumbent of them to hold up their side of the bargain. The State Senate has already passed the bill providing the Governor authority to complete the deal, and we strongly encourage the Assembly to do the same.” Additionally, he added: “The union supports labor unions and, without mentioning a Rochester casino a compact represents an opportunity for new and continued jobs that are vital to our region. It is our goal to add more jobs to the entire region, including more union jobs.”

In the meantime, Gov. Kathy Hochul pulled out of the talks because her husband works for Seneca’s gamin bet646 g competitor Delaware North,

A five-year legal battle with New York state:

The tribe and the state have been at loggerheads for years. On that note, the tribe has had a five-year legal battle over paying casino income to the state. Additionally, the legal case ended in 2022, when the Senecas agreed to pay the state $566 million, which Hochul said that “is being used to pay for a new Buffalo Bills stadium.”

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Looking back at the dispute, if the Rochester casino were to move forward, the Senecas would have to purchase the land and then get federal approval to become sovereign land to construct the casino on.