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Pay No Attention To Those Sluggish NY Casinos Behind The Curtain

man peeking under velvet curtain
The numbers coming out of New York’s new upstate casino are causing alarm for many in the gambling industry. Those on the government side of things insist there is nothing to worry about though.

All three NY casinos running behind expectation

Now that July revenue numbers are out, there is no doubt numbers are trailing expectations.

For example, Rivers Casino Schenectady’s earnings continue to hover between $10 and $11 million a month. At this pace, both Schenectady the city and Schenectady county will take in just over $2 million by year’s end.

According to even the most conservative estimates, state officials expected roughly $2.75 million each for the city and county by year’s end.

Rivers Casino is not the only property struggling to live up to the upstate casino hype either. Unlike Rivers, which opened in February, Tioga Downs has been up and running all year. Nonetheless, the property has only generated $13 million in tax revenue. Owner Jeff Gural told Reuters he estimated $32 million in tax payments by the end of the year.

The other upstate property, del Lago, is over 40 percent off projections as well.

Cuomo, state both say nothing to worry about

Considering the fourth upstate property, Resorts World Catskills, is not even open, many in the New York casino industry are concerned. A word that keeps cropping up is “oversaturation.”

In fact, Seneca Nation President Todd Gates mentioned it just last week. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to rescind Seneca’s exclusivity in northern New York, Gates pointed out a new casino in Niagara was destined to fail in the crowded market.

Cuomo and company are not worried though. At least not outwardly.

Speaking to the press earlier this month, Cuomo remained optimistic:

“The variance with the projections doesn’t bother me that much. They’ve all been wildly successful in creating jobs and building beautiful complexes, really. They’re conference centers. They’re recreation areas. They’re family-oriented, so that’s gone very, very well.”

Cuomo does have a point. Rivers only recently opened its adjoining hotel. Same for del Lago. Moreover, Tioga Downs is still building its hotel.

Hotels can only make so much of a difference though. The forthcoming Resorts World property seems like it would only make the saturation situation worse. However, Senate Gaming Chariman Sen. John Bonciac takes a more paradoxical view:

“It is still very early in the operation of these three casinos, and I am confident that as time goes on, and Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County comes on line, we will see an increase in revenues generated by all of these facilities.”

New York competition not the only problem

Resorts World is not the only competition to worry about though. Massachusetts has massive resort casinos MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor on the way. Connecticut is moving forward on another tribal casino in East Windsor as well.

The market is getting ruthless and crowded. For Cuomo, this is an interesting problem. In the past, he has hedged his stance on online poker in the state. He claimed he did not want to sabotage the success of the new upstate casinos.

However, as the New Jersey market shows us, online gaming might be exactly what New York needs in order to differentiate itself from the increasingly stiff competition.

Jessica Welman

About

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the Managing Editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.