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Letter: N.Y. State must agree to review of casino pact

Letter: N.Y. State must agree to review of casino pact

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In an April 29 editorial, The News called for the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Indian Gaming to expedite a legal review of the Seneca Nation’s gaming compact with New York State.

But the editorial failed to recognize that both the Nation and the state must agree to submit the compact for that review to occur.

In a letter to the Nation, the DOI expressed “serious concerns” about the legality of additional revenue sharing payments during the Compact’s seven-year renewal period. DOI invited a 45-day review because it never determined the legality of payments beyond the Compact’s initial 14-year term.

This review could end a long-running dispute over future revenue sharing payments and prevent years of costly litigation. Unfortunately, the state has refused to pursue the reasonable option of allowing the DOI to weigh in.

Once again, The News criticizes the nation for fully exercising its legal rights. Arbitrators only interpreted the compact; they did not have authority to determine its legality. We cannot and will not abide by potentially illegal revenue payments, which deprive the Seneca people of financial support and could set a dangerous precedent for other Native nations. We have asked a federal district court to void the prior arbitration award if the state rejects a federal review. The Nation will pursue all legal remedies to protect its interests.

The Nation’s gaming investments have greatly benefited our people and created thousands of local jobs, with the state and local governments receiving over $1.4 billion during the compact’s term.

We reiterate our call, underscored by your editorial, for the state to cooperate with the Seneca Nation in facilitating the DOI’s review so this matter can be resolved quickly and with legal certainty, which is in everyone’s best interest.

Matthew Pagels

President, Seneca Nation of Indians

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