The Seneca Nation of Indians wants a federal judge to vacate an arbitration panel ruling from earlier this year, requiring it to continue to share casino revenues with New York State.

Upon receiving the decision, which also determined the Nation owed more than $255 million in back pay, it asked the federal Department of Interior to conduct a review. The Senecas believe the arbitration panel made what amounted to an amendment to a 2002 compact in ruling the Senecas owed the state money despite the fact payments for the final seven-years of the 21-year deal were not explicitly spelled out in the document.

This week, however, the Department of Interior notified the Senecas it could not review the arbitration without a joint submission from the Nation and the state. In response, the Senecas filed a motion in federal court Thursday asking a judge to either vacate the arbitration or delay enforcement until the Department of Interior does conduct a review.

“You cannot simply skip past the fact that the arbitration decision and amendment must concur with federal law, and, right now, the amendment and the law conflict with one another,” Seneca President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. said. “The only other alternative to resolve the matter would be for the Nation and the State to come to some agreement and jointly submit it to the Department of Interior for review. The Nation is open to those discussions.”

Furthermore, Armstrong said the Nation did reach out to the Interior Department which agreed it did not have an obligation to pay the state after year 14. The Senecas made their last payment in March of 2017.

“The only other alternative to resolve the matter would be for the Nation and the State to come to some agreement and jointly submit it to the Department of Interior for review. The Nation is open to those discussions,” Armstrong said. “Unfortunately, unless the Governor is willing to sit down with the Seneca Nation leadership to negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution that we could submit to the Department of Interior together, I am concerned that this litigation will continue for the foreseeable future, leaving the Seneca Nation and the local governments who benefit tremendously from our gaming operations in legal and financial limbo.”

Meanwhile, Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca have all budgeted this year in expectation of receiving a portion of the casino payments once the state receives them. The Senecas have indicated they don’t plan to pay that money at least until they’ve exhausted legal avenues.

“This is nothing more than another stall tactic from the Seneca Nation as they continue to move the goal posts to avoid paying their obligations under a process that they signed on to. The arbitration panel ruled in favor of the State months ago and the Seneca Nation needs to start paying what’s owed to these local communities without any further delay,” Jason Conwall, a spokesperson for the governor, said.