Senecas Sign New York Casino Deal
By Paul
After five months of bargaining and debate, The Seneca Nation signed a deal with the New York State that could lead to Las Vegas-style casinos in Buffalo and New York.

On Sunday, Seneca Nation president Cyrus M. Schindler Jnr. And Governor George E. Pataki signed a gambling compact that marked the culmination of months of tortuous negotiations on issues such as Seneca sovereignty and union-organizing rights. Now the plan for Indian casinos in Buffalo and Niagara Falls will come under federal jurisdiction.

'This has been a long and difficult haul, but it's worth it,' Governor Pataki said outside the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center, where the Senecas want to open their first, interim casino by the end of the year.

The compact sets out regulations for the Seneca Nation to operate the state's first casinos with slot machines, including one in Buffalo, one in Niagara Falls and a third on one of two Seneca reservations in Western New York.

However, the deal has been fiercely contested, with groups such as Citizens against Casino Gambling in Erie County calling for a public referendum.

The people deserve to be heard,' said Joel Rose, the group's chairman.

The next step for the Senecas is to seek approval from the federal Department of the Interior and move ahead with the federal process to put into trust Niagara Falls and Buffalo land that will be used to house the casino operations.

'When we're cutting the ribbon, walking in there, I'll be really happy,' Schindler said after the signing. 'This is just one other step we took. We have other steps to take yet.'

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