State’s legalization of mobile betting could breach 2013 agreement with Oneida Indian Nation and 10 counties

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Representatives for the Oneida Indian Nation tells NewsChannel 9 that they are leaving their options open, including legal challenges, to responding to the State Budget that they think may breach an already existing agreement.

In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo and local leaders formally agreed to make the Oneida Indian Nation the exclusive provider of gaming in a 10-county region.

The 2021-2022 state budget legalizes gamblers’ ability to place bets on phones, but requires mobile betting companies to apply with the state.

That requires the Oneida Indian Nation to apply to offer mobile betting in the 10 county region already establish, or, allow a competing casino elsewhere to offer mobile gaming to Central New Yorker’s mobile devices.

“The intent of the governor to do mobile gaming takes away that exclusivity,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

As written, mobile betting companies like Fan Duel, Draft Kings, or possibly new software from the Oneida Nation need to apply for a state license and route bets through already existing casinos.

Either way, the Nation views the budget’s details as a possible infringement of the 2013 agreement, something Picente and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon agree with.

Picente said, “In the Oneida’s minds and ours, it’s like wait a minute, we already have that exclusivity for gaming in our region. Why do they have to apply?”

The Oneida Indian Nation says it did its best to pitch a compromise that works for everyone, which includes a guaranteed mobile betting license in exchange for lifting its exclusivity for mobile betting, allowing Central New Yorkers to gamble on other mobile platforms.

“The Senate accepted it. The Assembly accepted. The Governor’s Office rejected it,” Picente said.

Instead, the governor offers bonus points to mobile betting applications that partner with an Indian casino, but without guaranteed approval.

“It’s going against the word and the governor is really wrong here,” Picente said.

At a budget briefing Wednesday, the Governor’s counsel, Beth Garvey, told NewsChannel 9 that because the bets are technically placed in the location of the computer servers, mobile bets with in the 10 counties at casinos outside the zone don’t count against the 2013 agreement.

“The wagers that are placed are going to be deemed placed where the server is, so the exclusivity is not going to be implicated in any way and we think that address the issue there,” Garvey said.

“I would consider it a breach of the agreement we put in place. We’ll see what happens going forward,” Picente said.

The disagreement could lead to lawsuits.

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