BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Seneca Nation of Indians has said very little about this week's Supreme Court ruling striking down a federal ban on sports gambling, only that they plan to explore the opportunity to create another amenity for guests at their casinos.
"I think the Seneca Nation not only will do sports betting, I think they have to. They have to because clearly the state is intending on doing it," "Let's Talk Native" radio host John Kane said.
Kane, who lives on Seneca territory, said he believes the Nation will start taking bets before the state OKs other gaming facilities to do so.
"When you consider that there's only so many gaming dollars, you've got to do whatever you can do to stay on top of the gaming trends so you don't lose market share," he said.
State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, R-Niagara Falls, does not believe the Senecas have the authority to operate a sportsbook until they negotiate with the state. He said sports gambling is not included in the current Compact between the two parties.
"This would be additional gambling revenue that there's no authorization or rules or direction as to whether or not either the city of Niagara Falls or the state of New York is entitled to a percentage," he said.
The state technically has a law in place allowing sports betting in four non-Indian owned casinos but the Gaming Commission must approve individual license. The commission said it's still reviewing the court decision. A spokesperson had no comment on whether Seneca, Oneida or Mohawk casinos would need similar approval.
"The bottom line is our sovereignty is what enabled to do gaming so I would argue the same thing exists with sports betting," Kane said.
The Senecas and the state are currently in the middle of a stalled arbitration process to resolve a dispute over slot machine revenue. Morinello said it's possible the new development could serve as a bargaining chip to bring both sides back to the table.
"It would seem that it could be but on that, it's a legal issue and I'm not going to speculate at this time," he said.
Kane does not believe the state will ever see slot revenues again, but does think the strained relationship between the two parties makes it even more likely the Senecas move forward with sports betting.