The Oneida County towns of Verona and Vernon have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s revenue sharing and exclusivity agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation (OIN). They claim that the agreement was made in exchange for the OIN to not oppose casino gambling referendum that will be on the November ballot.
The lawsuit seeks to declare “illegal, null and void” the agreement that New York State and the OIN entered into this past May, alleging that it amounts to “vote buying” by the Governor.
Under the agreement, the state and counties dropped out of a lawsuit challenging the OIN’s effort to add 25,000 acres of land in central New York to territory. It also requires the OIN to give the state 25% of the slot machine revenues from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, estimated at $50 million annually. Madison and Oneida counties will also receive in-lieu-of-tax payments from the Oneidas.
A spokesman for the Governor said that the allegations “have no basis in reality.” He said:
“The agreement is sound, has been approved by democratic votes in the relevant county legislatures, and settles longstanding issues between the state and local governments and the Oneidas.”
A hearing on the lawsuit will be held in Albany on Sept. 13.