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New York Casino Revenue Inching Upward, But Sports Betting Still Stalled

With legal sports betting still dangling just out of reach, New York casinos are trying to claw their way out of the money pit.

Resorts World Catskills and Rivers Casino both recorded their best-ever months in August, but it’s the new kid on the block making the noise.

Resorts World set a new high-water mark with revenue approaching $15 million in just its seventh month of operation.

New York casino revenue (mostly) looking better

It’s not often we get to write about NY casino revenue in a positive light, so let’s take this opportunity to do so. Here are the top-line numbers for the four commercial properties in August:

Despite posting a new monthly record, Rivers slipped from the top spot for the very first time.

Resorts World is the newest of the four casinos and the new leader in the revenue column. Its August haul was up 38 percent from $10.8 million in January, and it looks like there’s still some headroom left. The property is drowning in debt, of course, but the momentum is positive, at least.

Rivers and del Lago are both churning out modest revenue gains, each up about eight percent through the first eight months of the year. That’s not enough to make up for their previous shortfalls either, but it’s a nice reversal from the negative trend last August.

And then there’s Tioga Downs, bringing up the rear despite a busy season at the track. Its numbers have been slipping since the first of the year, the only NY casino to post a month-to-month decrease in August. It would need to double its current revenue to enter the same ballpark as the other three properties.

Plans for sports betting still on hold

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard many updates about NY sports betting, well, there haven’t really been any. Literally none.

A law in place since 2013 specifically authorizes sports betting at these four commercial properties, but they have to wait for regulators to draft the rules first. When the NYS Gaming Commission announced its September meeting this week, sports betting was absent from the agenda. There might not even be so much as a ‘there’s-n0-update‘ update this month.

It’s not clear where the kink in the hose is, but the casino are working to get themselves ready in the meantime.

Rivers is probably all set to go. It’s a property of Rush Street Gaming, which is already offering sports betting under the SugarHouse brand in NJ. It uses Kambi as its partner there and will likely do so in NY, too.

Del Lago is the lone DraftKings Sportsbook partner outside of NJ. The two announced their union in July, a deal that includes both retail and online channels. DraftKings doesn’t yet have its branding on any retail sportsbook, and it’s not clear online betting is approved under existing NY law. So, there are a still few issues left to work out, but the pieces are in place.

Resorts World doesn’t yet have a public partnership, but its appetite for sports betting predates the Supreme Court ruling. Way back in March, executives were already talking about converting the existing sports bar into a sportsbook.

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Tioga Downs ready and willing, not able

Tioga Downs was the trendsetter here as the first upstate casino to enter into a sports betting alliance. Chairman Jeff Gural announced a partnership with Betfair US in June, covering both the NY property and Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

Betfair has since become FanDuel Group, and FanDuel Sportsbook has become the runaway leader in the NJ marketplace. Its $3 million in August revenue accounted for about a third of the industry total, even before it offered an online/mobile platform.

If and when Tioga Downs gets a sportsbook, it will be a FanDuel Sportsbook, too. As for when that might happen, though? There’s still no timeline for land-based wagering, let alone the online/mobile platforms that have become the focus elsewhere.

At an appearance in Binghamton this week, marketing manager Jeff Weed told Fox40 he’s not optimistic any NY casino will be taking bets in 2018.

We haven’t gotten any updates. We were hoping to have it done in time for football season and of course football season is here, and it hasn’t happened yet.

We’re hoping maybe shortly after the first of the year there will be something. But, again, we really don’t know. It’s just speculation. We’re hopeful. We know it’s coming around and it’s going to add another demographic to our client base and create a little more excitement out there for us.

Excitement is good, but some extra revenue would be really nice right about now, too.

With competition now growing in neighboring states, Tioga Downs is set to miss out on any geographical advantage it might have enjoyed, however briefly. Pennsylvania will almost certainly have sports betting before NY does, drawing folks away from the Southern Tier rather than toward it.

Eric Ramsey

About

Eric is a reporter and writer covering the NY gambling industry, online poker, sports betting regulation, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.