Court Says Seneca Nation Should Pay Up

By Ben Hamill - February 28 2021
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Court Says Seneca Nation Should Pay Up

Following Monday’s siding by a US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with the state of New York, the Seneca Nation of Indians will have to fork out roughly $435 million to local state bodies. The Indian tribe is reportedly currently considering its options and is likely to reach a decision to try and pursue the matter further.

According to State Budget Director Robert Mujica, an amount of $150 million of the money payable by the Seneca tribe, will be allocated towards local as well as county governments. The remaining money will be paid to New York State. Mujica also revealed that the largest portion of the funds allocated to the state will be put towards education.

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Tribe Considering Its Options

The Seneca Nation now has at its disposal a set period of time during which to consider its next move – if any. The tribe said it is currently considering its options and reviewing the situation following the latest developments at court. Possible remedies at the tribe’s disposal include requesting a review of the outcome by the full Second Circuit and applying to bring the issue for adjudication before the Supreme Court.

Monday’s ruling by the US Court of Appeals has since been welcomed by several officials from all round New York State. Welcoming the news were City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino.

New York Governor Cuomo added that it was high time the tribe started paying its dues to the state.

The Big Dispute

The tribe currently controls three casinos in New York State – and all under New York’s Class III gaming compact of 2002.

Initially in place for 14 years, the compact granted to the tribe the option of renewing for an additional 7 years in the event of the two sides being in agreement of the extension. But while both sides had agreed to extend the compact, the Seneca Nation said it had been of the belief that the financial obligations of the compact were only in place for the initial time period – and not the extension too.

As a result, the Seneca Nation in 2017 put a hold on all payments, with no money forthcoming ever since. The two sides that year entered into an arbitration process, which led to the panel of arbitrators ruling in January 2019, that the tribe would have to resume its yearly payments to the state. It had been that decision that ultimately led the Seneca Nation to approach the courts for a reprieve.

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