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New York Tribal Gaming

Tribal gaming came to New York State after the passage of the (federal) Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The first gaming compact between New York and a tribe came in 1993. New York Native American tribes operate several Class II and Class III casinos.

In November 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the Governor to negotiate gaming compacts with Native American tribes. This ruling had the effect of removing any outstanding legal questions related to the legitimacy of Native American casinos in New York.

In June 2013, Gov. Cuomo announced an agreement between the State of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians after more than six years of legal wrangling between the tribe and local citizens over nine acres in Buffalo that the Seneca wanted to use for gaming. The Seneca ultimately won the right to use the land as they wanted.

Under the agreement, the Seneca Nation of Indians agreed to pay $349 million in gaming revenue to the state and to local communities, money it has withheld over past years based on the state's failure to honor the tribe's exclusivity zone. The new agreement reconfirms the tribe's zone of exclusivity for casino operations, reestablishes payments made to the state, and sets forth pro-rated repayments of past amounts owed.

In November 2007, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of New York sued the federal government in an attempt to win approval for an off-reservation casino. The proposed casino had the approval of both the surrounding community and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, but the Department of the Interior had not acted on the tribe's land-to-trust application, which had been submitted in February. The tribe felt DOI Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who opposed off-reservation casinos as governor of Idaho, was delaying the decision. The lawsuit asked that the federal court force Kempthorne to rule on the application.

In January 2008, the federal government rejected the proposed casino and the tribe withdrew its lawsuit. That same month, the tribe accused Empire Resorts of abandoning its planned Catskills project and forming a partnership with another company to build a $1 billion casino resort at the former Concord Hotel site. In July, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe issued a press release announcing the end of exclusive negotiations with Empire Gaming and affirmed it will continue to lobby the DOI to reverse its stand on off-reservation gaming, while seeking alternative sites and options in the Catskill region.

In November 2010, the council of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe refused to make payments to the state because it believed the state of New York violated its tribal compact by allowing gaming at another Indian community within the Mohawk Tribe's exclusivity zone. The St. Regis Mohawk had been paying 22% of its slot revenues to the state.

In May 2013, an agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe was signed to affirm the tribe's exclusivity zone for gaming, as well as to recover the $30 million in payments owed to the state.

In June 2013, the Oneida Nation, which operates Turning Stone Resort and Casino, was given the exclusive right to operate casinos in one of the state's designated gambling districts. In addition to granting the Oneida exclusivity, Gov. Cuomo negotiated with county officials to settle all land claims and tax disputes with the tribe.

New York Tribal Gaming Properties

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