Read Schenectady’s Lips: Rivers Casino Means Lower Taxes

Written By Jessica Welman on October 5, 2017 - Last Updated on November 30, 2022
woman's lips with red lipstick

[toc]Most of the headlines coming out of New York regarding casinos is not positive. Just last week, we provided some context to just how much the new upstate NY casinos are underperforming.

Certainly lawmakers are looking at other avenues to pad those revenue numbers. Online poker will be back in the discussion this year. NY sports betting is also getting some time at the table.

Still though, there are some positive things coming from these new properties. Schenectady County can attest to that.

Schenectady wants to drop property taxes 1 percent

Last week, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy proposed a 1 percent decrease in the county’s property taxes next year. if it goes, this would be the third-straight year the county reduced taxes. Last year, local lawmakers agreed to reduce taxes four percent.

The 2016 reduction came about because lawmakers assumed the projections about Rivers Casino revenue would be in line with the property’s actual performance. What is encouraging is that, even though the casino is underperforming, taxes are still trending down.

The latest budget from the county expects $30.78 million in tax revenue from Rivers next year. That is $1 million higher than 2017 numbers.

A one percent tax decrease may not sound that impressive. It does amount to about $13 in taxes per individual. More importantly, it is helping establish a trend in a county with the highest combined county, city, and school property taxes in the area.

Even with the underwhelming performance, McCarthy is still thrilled with the property so far, per the Daily Gazette:

“It’s multiple millions of dollars in revenues, thousands of new jobs, it transformed a brownfield that sat there underutilized and abandoned. It’s significant.”

Not every county benefits as much from Rivers Casino

Certainly Schenectady County is happy enough with Rivers Casino so far. Not every county benefits quite as much as that one though.

Rivers pays 10 percent tax on table games earnings and a state-high 45 percent on slot machines. The state divies up the money as follows:

  • 80 percent to schools
  • 10 percent to Schenectady County and the city of Schenectady
  • 10 percent divided among surrounding counties

“There’s no question it’s a significant amount of money,” said Saratoga County Administrator Spencer Hellwig told the Daily Gazette. “We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can’t discount it as immaterial.”

However, not every county relies heavily on Rivers the way Schenectady is. As Matthew Osenfort of Montgomery County explains, it is enough money to be useful, but it is not going to a difference-maker when lawmakers put together a budget.

Nonetheless, there is something good coming out of these upstate casinos, even though the revenues still have a long way to go.

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Jessica Welman

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 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.

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