GENESEO — Livingston County doesn’t know for sure how much it will get from the revenue the Seneca Nation of Indians (SNI) owes local governments, but it may be double what the county used to get, a county official said Thursday.
The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that the SNI must pay about $435 million in back casino revenue that it owes to state and local governments as part of an agreement that gives SNI exclusive rights to operate gambling casinos in a multi-county region of Western New York.
According to a transcript from Feb. 22, state Budget Director Robert Mujica said of the $435 million owed, more than $100 million is owed to local governments. As part of the multi-county region under the agreement, Livingston County could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in casino revenue payments currently in arrears, County Administrator Ian Coyle said in a press release. SNI stopped payments in 2017.
“We applaud the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for its ruling. This is positive news for Livingston and the other counties owed these back payments. These revenues are rightfully due the counties in the exclusivity zone.”
Coyle told The Daily News that when the Seneca Nation began making payments, Livingston County was looking at about $500,000 a year.
“The tough part is, we really don’t have any idea what Livingston County’s portion is yet, but my best guess is somewhere in the range of $1 million,” he said. “This is not yet complete. There’s still a possibility of a challenge (to the court ruling), so to speak, Obviously, we’re not going to count our chickens. Legally, this is considered a win for the state and local governments.
Orleans County Spokesperson Dina Barone said going into 2017, the county was receiving about $230,000 per year in payments from SNI.
“We received one quarter in 2017. We are owed three quarters in 2017, all of 2018, 2019 and 2020,” she said in an email to The Daily News. “We were budgeting $230,000 each year in our debt service fund to help offset debt. We did not budget for it in 2018 and haven’t since.”
Barone estimated the Seneca Nation may owe the county about $862,500 from part of 2017 through 2020.
Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he hasn’t been made aware of the local impact the court ruling will have.
“It hasn’t really been on the radar because it’s been an ongoing legal battle for awhile. The county is not part of a lawsuit,” Landers said. “If there was some kind of a settlement that brought money to Genesee County, this would be unbudgeted revenue.”
Landers said he would probably email the county’s advocacy group, the New York State Association of Counties for details on this development.
“The casino revenue, when it started, was thought to be a recurring revenue and after about a year and a half, we stopped getting,” he said.“We would just place it into our reserves. We don’t have a specific spot.”
Wyoming County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Rebecca Ryan could not be reached for comment Thursday.