Senecas + Albany = Drama

31 Aug

The state and the Senecas are arguing and sniping over taxing cigarettes and casino revenues.

Under the 2001 agreement with the state allowing the Senecas to operate class III casinos, a cut of the take from slot machines is to be paid to the state. If the state were to legalize gambling and allow non-Indians to operate class III gaming facilities, thus eliminating the Senecas’ exclusivity, the payment of a cut of the slot proceeds would stop. Last year, the Senecas paid $32 million to the state. A lot of money, but a drop in the bucket compared to the revenues the state could collect on a private casino on private property located within the state of New York.

In the wake of state’s efforts to tax the sale of cigarettes to non-Indians, the Senecas are claiming that the state has violated its slots-exclusivity deal and they will be withholding further payments. Part of those payments are supposed to go to the host communities, as well.

Casino gaming is not permitted under the New York State constitution, but video slots and other games have been networked to make them nominally “competitive”, and they are now installed in racinos throughout the state, including Batavia and Hamburg. It’s time that casino gaming was legalized throughout the state so that casinos not on Indian Reservations pay property, sales, income, and other taxes to the state. The carving out of sovereign Seneca exclaves in Buffalo and Niagara Falls have done nothing to directly benefit either city, or their immediate surroundings. Paying no state tax and not subject to most New York laws, these places poach bar and restaurant business from surrounding neighborhoods.

The state’s dalliances with gaming has proved a few things: 1. it’s lucrative; 2. the state is unfairly limiting itself and its take from the casinos by refusing to just acknowledge that people like casinos and legalizing the damn things.

11 Responses to “Senecas + Albany = Drama”

  1. Mike Walsh August 31, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    How about the state just shuts up and dies? It’s about time everybody finds their own way to avoid taxes and not feed the beast.

    You’re nuts, Alan, trying to rationalize any of this. We’re being conned by swindlers and fraudsters whose sole purpose is to extract hard earned money from their “constituents”.

  2. lefty August 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Just another example of NYS doing things their own little way.

    NYS should legalize 4 public Casinos for Downtown Niagara Falls and then play hardball with the Senecas to go on the tax rolls with the existing casino. Last time I checked, the Seneca casino needed to tap into water and power from the City of NF. Charge the hell out of that to make up the difference.

    The idea to scatter out Casinos is stupid. It compounds the negative and removes any potential for a positive.

    The fact that NF USA has a SINGLE 4star hotel is a freaking joke. The region has an asset like the Falls and can only manage to build 1 4star hotel.

  3. Ward August 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    If only the NYS government did not believe that its primary purpose was, not to govern, but to hoard dollars. It would not feel the need to bleed every single act of commerce in order to feed the ravenous maw of the public unions, the pork programs, and the schemes to buy our votes with our own money.
    From a state in which any reduction in the rate of growth is deemed a frightening “cut”, unfortunately we cannot expect anything other than what we’re seeing.

  4. Jay-Z for Governor August 31, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    The state has violated agreements with the Seneca’s far too often. People may not like this, but the law is the law, you cannot ignore it because you feel like it.

  5. Hapklein September 1, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    I have more of a problem with the product that is at the basis of all this.

    WNY has one of the finest Cancer Research and treatment facilities in the country. Since the 1970’s Rosswell has cited Cigarettes as the largest cause of breathing problems and lung cancer. It is estimated that in their lifetime smokers cause about $30,000 more in health costs than the non-smokers.

    I agree that the Seneca’s do have treaty that was supposed to spare them from some commercial costs on the reservations. That this allows them to undersell all other commercial intersts in the area is up to the lawyers to settle.

    But what I dislike that a sovereign nation can export a product to the United States that has known and identified health hazards. Worse this product is discounted from a tax that is partially imposed to discourage cigarette use and thus encourage greater use. The result of this is the rest of us have to pay more in health costs to help individuals in the tribe to make a lot of money, even though they boast of job creation.

    I don’t think its a state issue either. If they are a legitimate sovereign nation then the federal government should be enforcing border security for tax evasion.

    Again I think the Indians do have rights but I hate the product they manufacture and export to the USA and I never enjoyed the spectacle of a very few members of the tribes who actually benefit financially from the exchange. Considering the cash flow from the casinos I wonder that the tribal councils continue to defend the nasty business.

  6. Mike Walsh September 1, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    “this product is discounted from a tax that is partially imposed to discourage cigarette use and thus encourage greater use. The result of this is the rest of us have to pay more in health costs to help individuals in the tribe to make a lot of money, even though they boast of job creation.”

    Bullshit. The tax is/was enacted to collect revenues. Nothing else.
    Bullshit. Smokers die younger on average saving substantial costs to the state.

    • Alan Bedenko September 1, 2010 at 8:45 am #

      Die younger and rack up massive surgical, imaging, pharmaceutical, hospital, and hospice expenses at that younger age.

      What a phony counterargument.

  7. Patrick September 2, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    Yep…who needs young healthy workers when we can get young sicklys who can drain the healthcare system and not work! Hooray for ignorant selfishness!!!
    As much as I don’t care for big casinos in Buffalo, I do think that the video gaming would be a big revenue increaser in NY, but the problem is not revenue, it’s spending…I fear more taxes and do want smaller government…as much as I hate agreeing with both Paladino and Cuomo at the same time.

  8. Mike Walsh September 5, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    Not phony…do the math, a skill most of you “progressives” seem to have missed in grade school…

  9. Alan Bedenko September 5, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    No, Mike.  If a smoker dies younger than a non-smoker, that means nothing.  It’s the care given to keep someone alive that matters.  Whether that happens to a smoker at age 59 or 75, the care is the same.  And quite extensive.  Someone who doesn’t smoke has a much-reduced risk of lung cancer, emphysema, stroke, etc.  

    But we come back to the central thesis of glibertarianism – that any human or societal issue is boiled down to dollars and cents, and that the glibertarian doesn’t like to pay for a functioning contemporary society. 

  10. Brian Castner September 5, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    @ Mike and Alan – Actually, Mike, go to the research. I used to think like you, and that smokers and the obese cost the state more. They actually cost the state significantly less, because they die young. If you stay healthy, you collect far more social security and medicare over your life, and then you still have the massive hospital bills at the end when you die of cancer at age 90.

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