Oneida Indian Nation’s record year brings money to Onondaga and other counties

Business has been good for the Oneida Indian Nation lately, especially, it seems, with the thousands of slot machines they run in their casinos and stores.

And that’s good news for the state, Onondaga County and nine other county governments, which receive annual payments from the Oneidas through a 2013 settlement reached with state and local officials.

The Oneidas made $85 million in payments to 10 central New York counties and the state in 2022, breaking the previous record of nearly $80 million paid in 2021, national officials reported this week . Totals have been rising steadily since the first payments began in 2014, with the exception of a dip in the first Covid year of 2020.

The 2013 settlement calls for the Oneidas to split 25% of their total slot revenue between 10 counties in central New York and the state’s general fund. In turn, the Oneidas have exclusive rights to offer games – slots, poker, casino table games, sportsbook, etc. – in these counties (although their gaming properties are limited to Oneida and Madison counties).

The 2013 agreement resolved other issues between the nation and state beyond gambling, including land claims, law enforcement and taxes. Gambling began in Oneida territory in 1993 with the opening of the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, Oneida County. But at that time there were no regulations for payouts of gambling proceeds.

Meanwhile, the Oneida Indian Nation has made some ambitious capital investments over the past year, mostly in projects that are not strictly related to gambling. (See below for details). That led to a $64 million increase in spending on contractors and other services in the region for a total of $254 million in 2022. That was a 34% year-over-year increase in provider spending, the Nation reported.

In Onondaga County, revenue from the state’s slot machines will be used to repay bonds spent on construction of St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater on Onondaga Lake, which opened in 2015.

The amount needed to cover principal and interest payments on the amp each year is approximately $2.7 million, but Oneida payments to Onondaga County totaled $4.4 million in 2021 and 2022 to nearly $4.5 million. Any money in excess of the amount needed for the bonds goes into a reserve fund to cover potential shortfalls in the future, said Justin Sayles, spokesman for County Executive Ryan McMahon.

Despite the drop in 2020, slots revenue has recovered nicely, said Joel Barkin, the nation’s vice president for communications. The increase from 2021 to 2022 was about 6%.

“The revenue speaks for itself,” Barkin said, noting that the Oneidas’ gaming revenues have improved since Covid and have withstood increased competition from the opening of four non-Indian national casinos in the hinterland from 2016.

Here is the annual total paid to all ten counties and states:

2014: $40.8 million

2015: $53.1 million

2016: $61.9 million

2017: $59.8 million

2018: $65.4 million

2019: $69.9

2020: 60 million dollars

2021: $79.9 million

2022: $85 million

Here is the breakdown of slot machine payments by county and state in 2022 (county allocations are based on population, with the exception of Oneida and Madison counties, which are compensated differently as they have national territories within their borders):

Oneida County: $23.8 million

Madison County: $3.5 million

Cayuga County: $713,000

Chenango County: $441,000

County of Cortland: $438,000

County of Herkimer: $562,000

Lewis County: $249,000

Onondaga County: $4.5 million

District of Oswego: $1.1 million

County of Otsego: $547,000

New York State General Fund: $49.3 million

New Oneida investments

Since last year, the Oneidas have completed or announced the start of some major projects, leading to a surge in spending from contractors and suppliers in central New York. This includes:

· The Cove at Sylvan Beach, a $35 million vacation destination on Oneida Lake, opened in June 2022.

· The Villages at Stoney Creek, a $15 million state-owned housing development near Turning Stone offering one- to three-bedroom employee housing at below-average rents, opened in June.

· The nation in September announced plans for the largest expansion of the Turning Stone since it opened in 1993. The project will double the resort’s meeting and conference space while adding a new hotel, dining and other amenities.

· The Oneidas are also working to build a “seed to sale” marijuana business that will include a cultivation and processing facility in Verona and retail stores in Oneida and Madison counties. The Oneidas’ entry into this business occurs when the state introduces the licensed legal marijuana business.

According to Oneidas, in 2022 spending on vendors delivering services to the nation was $14.7 million in Oneida County, $7.6 million in Madison County and $91.7 million in Onondaga County. That’s a 71% increase from 2021, the nation said.

The Oneida Indian Nation has approximately 1,000 registered members and approximately 4,500 employees, making it one of the top employers in central New York. The nation added about 400 jobs in 2022 and its payroll was $186 million, an 11% increase from 2021.

The Oneidas are hosting a “Recruitment Show” on January 31 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in Turning Stone to fill vacancies at their businesses and properties. Information and registration.

“As we begin our 30th anniversary at Turning Stone, we know that reinvesting in our people and community has been key to our success,” said Ray Halbritter, Representative of Oneida Indian Nation and CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, in an explanation. “The growth of our businesses presents an opportunity to expand our economic footprint and partnerships across the region, and these increased investments are a testament to that fact.”

Don Cazentre writes for, and The Post Standard. Reach him below [email protected]or follow him below NYup.comon Twitter or Facebook.