Labor Coalition Forms As State Negotiates On Seneca Compact

Labor Coalition Forms As State Negotiates On Seneca Compact
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

As the Empire State awaits answers from the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) to the second round of questions from potential suitors regarding three downstate casinos, a new upstate coalition was formed last week.

The “Fair Compact for All” coalition says it represents gaming, organized labor, and community interests across the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions. According to a statement, the organization’s goal is to ensure a transparent and equitable process as the state negotiates a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation.

The current 20-year compact between Seneca and the state expires on Saturday, Dec. 9. This activity comes as advocates for legal online New York casino apps await progress.

Four Upstate New York Casinos

The four existing Finger Lakes/Western New York gaming properties – Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, del Lago Resort & Casino, Hamburg Gaming and Batavia Downs Gaming – employ more than 3,500 New Yorkers. The majority of those workers are union members, and the casinos pay close to $180 million in annual state gaming taxes.

“Our casino alone, which is the largest entertainment employer in Seneca County, has generated more than 1,500 direct and indirect jobs along with more than $200 million in annual sales of goods and services pre-pandemic,” Lance Young, vice president and general manager of del Lago Resort & Casino, said in a news release from Fair Compact For All. “We are still building back our operations. A truly fair Seneca gaming compact will recognize the importance of these contributions and enable us to continue to grow and support the community for years to come.”

In June, many Fair Compact for All coalition members rallied to oppose a deal that would have brought a new Seneca casino to Monroe County. Fair Compact for All continues to oppose any new Seneca gaming operations, as oversaturation of gaming is a serious threat to the tax revenues, jobs and other community benefits provided by existing gaming facilities.

“We cannot and will not tolerate any middle-of-the-night deals that lack transparency, public input, and data-driven economic analysis,” said Chris Riegle, president and general manager of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack. “We welcome competition, but we can’t compete without a level playing field. We look forward to working with our coalition members, local elected officials, and representatives in Albany to secure a truly fair compact for all.”

Awaiting Downstate Answers

The second round of questions from potential bidders for the much-anticipated three casino licenses in downstate New York were submitted on Oct. 6. Those questions are being reviewed by the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board.

Once the second round of questions has been answered and published, applications need to be submitted within 30 days. Those applications will be reviewed by a local Community Advisory Committee (CAC). Applications will need two-thirds support from the CAC, along with zoning approvals, before the GFLB can consider them.

Answers to the first round of questions for casinos in or near New York City took about six months to gather and were released on Aug. 31. The future of online New York casinos is off the table until at least until 2024, pending legislation for iGaming.

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Author

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.