Niagara Falls is running out of money over lost casino payments
The city’s coffers are collecting more dust than cash
The Seneca Nation of Indians has been at odds with New York State for the past two years. It stopped making payments in 2017 to the state’s government, depriving the latter of $110 million extra each year. Niagara Falls has particularly felt the pinch and has said that it will run out of money if the tribe doesn’t restart its payments.
Niagara Falls was able to pick up a loan for $12 million at the beginning of its most recent fiscal year in order to keep running, but that money is running out and could be gone by the end of July. Kenny Tompkins, a councilman for the city, warns that crisis mode is pending as a result of the lack of money and that the popular tourist destination might start turning off some of its lights.
The dispute is based on whether or not the native tribal group is on the hook for 25% of its gaming revenue. Its gambling compact requires the payment and the tribe regularly turned over the funds for 14 years; however, that compact expired in 2016. They argue that an arbitration panel established to oversee a new compact doesn’t have the authority to try to force the tribe to continue making the payments, and has requested federal intervention.
Niagara Falls could get another lifeline. Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that another $12.3 million could be destined to the city, but has not set a timeframe for delivery. If it doesn’t happen soon, Niagara Falls could have to resort to panhandling.