New York casino revenue investigation begins

  • Tioga Downs, Rivers Casino, and del Lago are all significantly underperforming
  • It may be that initial revenue predictions were too high, or that other aspects than gaming are bringing in the highest amounts

Gary Pretlow, New York Assemblyman, has asked State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to investigate the reason for three upstate land-based casinos failings to meet their target revenues.

Gary Pretlow
Gary Pretlow has asked the New York Comptroller to investigate the reasons land-based casinos are failings to meet their target revenues.

These establishments are Tioga Downs in Nichols, del Lago in the Finger Lakes, and Rivers Casino near Albany.

The reason for Pretlow’s dismay is simple; as an active supporter of the casino expansion movement, he believes that failing casinos may one day turn to the state for financial support.

In a letter addressed to DiNapoli, Pretlow reiterates the importance of having “reliable and realistic long-term revenue expectations.”

Pretlow also reports disappointment at the fact although the New York’s legislators passed the gambling expansion bill with promising revenue projections in mind, he thinks that “the last few months have called into question” such promises.

Shortcomings in the spotlight

Current estimations suggest that the three underperforming New York casinos will come in around $220 million short of what they were expected to.

Rivers Casino, del Lago, and Tioga Downs share almost 40% and 10% of their slots and table game revenue, respectively, with the state, meaning that their shortcoming will cost New York millions of dollars.

With these failings in mind, it is now thought that the three casinos – either by design or innocently – produced some particularly high revenue predictions.

This may have been done in an effort to win over the state’s lawmakers and therefore allow the properties to gain operating licenses.

Before Tioga Downs’ opening, owner Jeff Gural predicted that the casino would generate over $100 million in its first year. But in September, just $57.8 million was brought in. And while Gural admits that his initial projections were wrong, he notes that the casino is still a “huge success.”

Meanwhile, Rivers Casino owners suggested that the property could bring in as much as $222 million during its initial operational year.

However, during the first 8 months of the casino being open, it has generated under $94 million.

Del Lago is pacing even farther behind its projected revenue goals. Its estimated total for the casino’s first year was $263 million, but by 9 months later, it had made just over $100 million.

What’s next?

The casinos’ owners say that it’s “too early to judge” how well they might do in the coming months. They say that while their hospitality offerings are earning well, gaming seems not to be. This is at least the case for del Lago.

The contents of DiNapoli’s response to Pretlow’s letter are thus far unknown, but back in 2014, the former did warn the latter to “go conservative” when it came to revenue brought in by gaming at casinos.

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