Seneca Nation President Seeks ‘Fair, New’ Gaming Compact

Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels (l.) commented that the tribe is seeking a fair, new gaming compact that addresses the fact that the gaming landscape has changed since its casinos were approved.

Seneca Nation President Seeks ‘Fair, New’ Gaming Compact

Matthew Pagels, president of New York’s Seneca Nation, says the tribe is seeking a “fair, new” gaming compact, noting that the gaming landscape has changed “drastically” in the 20 years since the tribe first obtained exclusive rights to operate three casinos in Western New York.

Commenting following a press conference at Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, Pagels cited the expansion of casinos in New York outside the tribe’s exclusive territory as having presented many challenges to the three Seneca casinos—Seneca Niagara, Seneca Buffalo Creek and Seneca Allegany. He added that in addition to the opening of casinos including Del Lago Resort in the Finger Lakes region and Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols, the increased availability of video lottery terminals at racinos like Batavia Downs have drawn business from the Seneca properties.

“The landscape has exploded,” Seneca Nation spokesman Phil Pantano told the Niagara Gazette. Pantano noted the rise in online gaming as an additional drag on Seneca operations. “We’ve definitely seen an impact on brick-and-mortar sites,” said Pagels.

Pagels said the Senecas are beginning negotiations with the state on a new compact, and that he is “optimistic” that a fair deal can be reached. Under the current compact, which expires in December 2023, the tribe pays 25 percent of slot and VLT revenue to the state, which in turn distributes 25 percent to the host communities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca.

A spokesman for New York Governor Kathy Hochul told the Gazette the gaming commission and state executives have already begun preliminary negotiations with the tribe on a new compact. “We are confident that the process will continue in a way that best serves New Yorkers,” the spokesman said.