NIAGARA FALLS -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that New York State "is living up to" the agreement it signed a decade ago permitting Indian casinos in Western New York.
In town last week for a series of economic development announcements, Cuomo was asked what happens to Niagara Falls if the state loses its arbitration battle with the Seneca Nation of Indians, who feel the state has violated the terms of the deal by allowing "racinos" in the Southtowns.
"I am confident that the state at the end of the day will prevail on the contract," Cuomo told reporters. "The Senecas will pay what they are supposed to pay by the contract. I believe whenever possible to come to a mutual agreement but a contract is a contract and the law is the law and when we make arrangements with a group to pay a certain amount of money, they should pay a certain amount of money."
The Indian nation has withheld roughly $58 million in slot machine revenues that would normally be paid to the city, and leaders have struggled to balance their budget without the funds.
While the Senecas have made their thoughts on the matter known, Cuomo's comments are one of the few instances where state leaders have said they are indeed living up to the casino deal.
"I want to get not only the people of Niagara Falls but the people of this state the money they were entitled to," Cuomo added. "We made an agreement, everyone has to live up to the agreement. The state is living up to the agreement, so should the other side."
The matter is in arbitration and is expected to be decided early next year.