By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- A week after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threatened to place commercial casinos in the backyards of gambling ventures now run by Native American tribes, a Central New York Indian tribe is expected this afternoon to agree to a deal with the governor to keep any new casinos out of their geographic territory.
The Oneida Indian Nation, which since 1993 has enjoyed the benefits of a lucrative casino deal with the state in which it does not have to share slot machine revenues with Albany, is expected to sign a new agreement to start making revenue-sharing payments in return for Cuomo blocking off a large Central New York area from his plans to expand casinos in New York.
The looming deal, which sources say could be announced within the hour at the Capitol, would put pressure on the Seneca Nation of Indians to make their own agreement with Cuomo to end a $600 million stalemate raging for several years over stalled payments by the tribe to Albany. In its deal with the former Pataki administration a decade ago, the Seneca Nation agreed to pay 25 percent of slot revenues to the state in return for gambling exclusivity rights in a large area of Western New York.
The Senecas several years ago stopped making the payments, saying the state breached the compact by, in part, allowing new forms of gambling devices at racetrack-based casinos in the region. The governor last week said he wants to permit three casinos in upstate New York in six different regions. If three tribes agreed to broker new deals with the state, Cuomo pledged to prevent any new commercial casinos from locating within their regions. For the Senecas, that would be a huge area from Route 14 east of Rochester to Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania to the western border of the state.
A Cuomo spokesman declined comment and an Oneida Indian tribe spokesman did not return calls for comment.