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Senecas last holdout in casino negotiations with state

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Daniel Robison/WBFO
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In quick succession, the State of New York has reached agreements over casino rights with two Native American tribes: the Oneidas in Central New York and the Mohawks in the North Country.  That leaves the Seneca Nation in Western New York as the last remaining tribe whose dispute with the state is still unresolved. 

"We're continuing to talk. We have two out of three," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The Senecas operate three regional casinos with facilities in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Salamanca.  The tribe has been withholding revenue payments because it believes the state violated its gaming compact when it allowed for slot machines at racetracks.  Speaking in Buffalo Wednesday, Governor Cuomo said he's working to resolve the disputes ahead of the possible legalization of non-Indian gaming in the state.

“All three compacts were basically dysfunctional in that they were in litigation and the tribes weren't making the payments, and it had been this way for many, many years. So one of the things I wanted to do is actually get these compacts operable so the tribes are making the payments they're supposed to make," says Cuomo.

A referendum to allow for private gaming resorts could be on the statewide ballot as soon as this November, should the proposal pass in Albany.  Cuomo has proposed three such casinos at undetermined sites in upstate New York. The Senecas currently owe the state and its municipalities, around $500 million.

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