Oneida Nation begins sharing casino profits with New York state

Mar 11, 2014

The Oneida Indian Nation has begun cutting checks to New York state and county governments out of the profits from its Turning Stone casino. The profit-sharing will enable the Oneida to maintain its dominance over casino gambling in central New York.

The deal was agreed on last year and ratified by a federal judge last week. Madison County board of supervisors chairman John Becker called the $11 million check his county received a "much-needed financial boost."

Oneida County, where Turning Stone is located (in Verona), will get $12.5 million out of the profit-share soon. Eight other central New York counties will receive smaller amounts. Onondaga County is getting $2.5 million this year.

In all, the Oneida will pay a quarter of its profits to the state, worth a total of $50 million a year, in order to keep a state-run casino out of those nine counties.

The Oneida penned the deal in May as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was pushing for the legalization of state-run casinos, later ratified on the ballot in November. Other nations later followed suit.

The partnership ends "centuries of dispute," Cuomo said Tuesday. It's part of an "enduring partnership" between the Oneida and New York, said nation representative Ray Halbritter.

"It enshrines the shared vision we all have for the future of the region as it is a financial agreement about shared revenue. So economically, this is big news. It’s a new era for our region, the state," he said.

The partnership has not always been rosy, especially between the Oneida and its neighbors. Also part of this deal is settling land claims between Madison and Oneida counties and the nation. The nation will start charging sales tax on gas and cigarettes and a room occupancy tax. 

"This is a change, I think, that is going to a be positive for the nation and for both of our counties and the state," said Becker.