Niagara Falls hasn’t received slots cash from Senecas for 2006

Niagara Falls – The Seneca Nation of Indians has not paid the state its share of slot machine revenue from last year, and some local leaders are getting anxious about when the money will arrive.

The Senecas’ compact calls for paying the state 18 percent of net slot machine revenue on an “annual basis” for the first four years of casino operations, but it does not specify a date for the payments.

That uncertainity has left city officials guessing when they will be able to spend their share.

No date has been set for payout from last year’s operations, a Seneca Nation spokesman said Friday.

Niagara Falls has budgeted USD 2.4 million of its share for debt payments due later this year, and some city leaders are asking for a timeline on when the money will arrive.

“Just give us a date,” Councilman Christopher Robins said shortly after receiving the city’s proposed budget for next year. “We can’t make a financial plan without knowing when the money is coming in.”

Last year, the Senecas paid the state more than USD 68 million in late September to cover the 2005 operations of the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls and the Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca.

In 2005, the payment was made even earlier, with the Senecas holding a news conference in April to announce sending USD 57.1 million to the state.

The state gives 25 percent of the money to communities where casinos are located.

Philip Pantano, spokesman for the Seneca Gaming Corp., said the corporation makes monthly payments to the Senecas.

Under the compact, the payments, for the exclusive rights to operate casinos with slot machines in Western New York, will increase next year to 22 percent of net slot revenue and must be made twice a year.

Mayor Vince Anello said he was not concerned that the payment has not been made and was certain that the money will be paid by the end of December.

“I feel it’s money we can bank on,” Anello said. “I know that any issues right now are just between the State of New York and the Seneca Nation, but that certainly isn’t going to impact us when it comes to the money that’s supposed to come to us by the end of year.”