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Senecas want arbitrator to settle dispute with NY

BUFFALO — The Seneca Indian Nation will seek expedited arbitration to settle a dispute with New York that has held up payment of $330 million in gambling profits to the state and three cities where the tribe has casinos.

Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter said Thursday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had failed to make a good faith effort to resolve the nearly 3-year-old impasse over whether the state’s expansion of gambling violates its 2002 casino compact with the Senecas.

“The passage of time has deteriorated the nation’s willingness to trust the state to work out these disputes,” Porter told The Associated Press. “The clearest way to resolve it at this point is to arbitrate.”

A letter from the administration to Porter this week suggests the frustration runs both ways.

In January 2009, the Senecas stopped sharing casino profits with the state as called for by the compact, saying New York’s approval of slot machines at racetracks and the video game Moxie Mania in bars violated a clause in the compact promising the tribe gambling exclusivity in western New York.

The compact requires the state to split its casino proceeds with Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca, where the Seneca casinos are located. The revenue loss has hurt all three cities. In July, Salamanca obtained a $5 million emergency loan from the state to maintain services threatened by a budget shortfall.