US tribe to retake revenue-sharing payments

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The Seneca Nation will have to keep the revenue-sharing payments. (Credits: buffalonews.com)

An arbitration panel ruled the Seneca tribe must retake revenue-sharing payments after it halted and retained more than US$100 million.

US.- The Seneca Nation tribe has ceased to pay the revenue-sharing deal with New York after the compact was renewed in 2017 but it seems it will have to retake the payments. An arbitration panel ruled (split decision, 2-1) that the tribe wrongly stopped the agreement and must pay a revenue share despite their intention was not to.

Back in 2017, the tribe argued that a drafting omission had released them from their obligation to pay the revenue-sharing agreement. That moved them to stop paying the state’s share from the three gaming venues it operates in western New York, which would already amount to over US$100 million.

A three-member arbitration panel has ruled that the Seneca Nation wrongly halted more than $100 million in revenue-sharing payments to the state derived from the three gambling halls it operates in western New York.

“A majority of the Panel… supports the conclusion that ‘renewal’ means that the Compact was continued on the same terms and conditions that were in place immediately prior to expiration of the Compact’s initial term which entailed revenue sharing for exclusivity,” the ruling argues. “To conclude otherwise and interpret ‘renew’ to mean that the Nation gets exclusivity without sharing revenue would render several provisions of the Compact meaningless, ignore the purpose of the Parties’ agreement, challenge common sense and produce a commercially unreasonable result.”

According to Kevin Washburn, a University of New Mexico Law School professor, former Interior Department official and the member of the panel chosen by the tribe (voted against), the decision “rewrites the Compact in a way that harms the Nation and provides an unjustified windfall to the State.”

Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong added: “While we know we are right on the law, we also knew that making that argument to an arbitration panel gave no assurance of an opinion in our favor. As is often the case, the Courts, and apparently arbitration panels, do not always decide cases on the law, even their law. We have prepared for this circumstance, and, now that the panel has issued its opinion, we will take the appropriate time to review and respond to the opinion, and move forward.”

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