(WNY News Now) – A coalition comprising gaming, labor, and community representatives from Finger Lakes and Western New York regions has formally introduced the Fair Compact for All coalition to advocate for transparency and fairness in the upcoming negotiations for a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation.
ALBANY, NY – With the current 20-year compact between the Seneca Nation and the State set to expire on December 9, 2023, the Fair Compact for All coalition aims to ensure that the negotiation process for a new compact treats all stakeholders fairly across the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions.
The coalition strongly emphasizes the importance of preserving the existing gaming operations, which have contributed significantly to the local economy, provided family-sustaining jobs, and supported nonprofit organizations. To articulate their message, Fair Compact for All has launched a website, FairCompactForAll.com, to emphasize the value of the current gaming activities and the need for fairness in the upcoming agreement.
The four gaming facilities in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions, namely del Lago Resort & Casino, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, Hamburg Gaming, and Batavia Downs Gaming, employ over 3,500 New Yorkers, a majority of whom are union members. These establishments collectively contribute nearly $180 million in annual state gaming taxes, surpassing the Seneca Nation’s tax contributions under the existing compact.
Contrastingly, the communities hosting Seneca gaming operations have seen declining populations and property tax bases, and none of the Nation’s gaming operation employees are union members. Leaders of the coalition argue that fairness in the new compact is imperative to maintain their contributions to the community.
Lance Young, Vice President and General Manager of del Lago Resort & Casino, underlined the significance of their contributions to the local community and the need for a fair compact to support their growth.
While the coalition continues to oppose any new Seneca gaming operations, they point to a 2021 study commissioned by the New York State Gaming Commission indicating market oversaturation. The State Comptroller has also cautioned against further oversaturation due to its potential impact on existing gaming facilities and their benefits for host communities.
Chris Riegle, President and General Manager of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, highlighted the importance of a transparent and data-driven negotiation process to ensure a level playing field.
Gary Bonadonna Jr., Manager of the Rochester Regional Joint Board/Workers United, emphasized the role of tourism-generated labor income and the need to protect jobs and community contributions.
Austin Reed, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, echoed the sentiment for a fair and transparent negotiation process to safeguard jobs and local economic contributions.
Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming, pointed out the potential impact on their mission and the livelihoods of employees and the harness racing industry.
The Fair Compact for All coalition is committed to working with coalition members, local elected officials, and representatives in Albany to ensure a fair and equitable gaming compact for all stakeholders involved.