February 11, 2009, Mid Hudsion News: Seneca officials initiate casino talks with governor’s office

Seneca officials initiate casino talks with governor’s office

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ALBANY - Officials of the Seneca Nation of Indians and its Seneca Catskills Gaming Corporation met Tuesday in Albany with officials in the governor’s office to initiate discussions about building a Seneca-owned resort in the Catskill Mountains.

The Seneca Nation and Rotate Black Gaming, Inc. of Michigan announced last month that they have an exclusive agreement to develop and manage a Class III gaming resort in the Catskills that is projected to produce $160 million in direct payments to state and local governments when it’s complete.

The Seneca Nation, based on six territories in Western New York, has had the exclusive agreement with Rotate Black for the last 18 months to develop and manage what would be the first full scale casino in Sullivan County.

The estimated payments to New York governments would exceed the annual total of what is paid to governments by the Nation’s three existing casinos in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca in Western New York.

“As we embark on this great opportunity for the state and the Nation, we seek cooperation so everyone gains, as is the case with the state, and local governments in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca,” said Kevin Seneca, the Nation’s treasurer from 2006-08. “We had a good meeting to review the challenges ahead and understand what each side’s priorities are.” 

In 2002, the state Legislature authorized development of three Indian casinos in the Catskills region. The Seneca Nation has long had an interest in the Catskills as an opportunity to establish a Class III gaming facility.

Rotate Black acquired a 63-acre parcel of land in the Town of Thompson near exit 107 on Route 17 and recently transferred the land to the Nation. The Nation holds the land in “fee status” and pays taxes on it until the United States puts the land in restricted fee or trust status. The previous administration in Washington was opposed to trust status for Native American casinos in the Catskills. It is hoped the new administration will change that position.

Rotate Black projects that a fully developed Catskills casino will generate approximately $160 million in exclusivity fees to state and local governments, which is greater than what is currently being paid annually to state and local governments under the Nation’s existing Class III compact for its three Western New York casinos.

The envisioned casino project is slated to include an all-suites hotel, enclosed pool environment, multiple restaurants, banquet facilities, food court, and spa. 

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