Rivers Casino & Resort Continues to Report Quality Slot Gaming Revenues

Having opened in February 2017, the Rivers Casino & Resort is still considered a relatively new casino to the state of New York. Since opening, the venue has done quite well, especially when looking at slot gaming revenues. The most recent reports are in and the gaming venue was able to see $126 million wagered last month at the venue. This is a huge increase when considering the monthly average for last year as well as this year.

Gross Gaming Revenues

Rivers Casino Schenectady New YorkThe New York Gaming Commission compiles reports of the non-Indian casinos in the state with the information made public based on monthly data releases. The April to March fiscal year of the state report was just released with the venue able to provide data for a second full fiscal year.

The gross gaming revenues for the venue were up by 11.5% with $157.1 million generated in 2018-2019. The total for the 2017-2018 fiscal year came in at $140.9 million. Of the amount earned this year, the casino paid $53.3 million in gaming taxes. This is an increased amount of just over 16% when comparing the last fiscal year.

It’s quite interesting to look at the breakdown of data for the Rivers Casino in 2018-2019. Schenectady is the host city and county of the casino, with both municipalities earning $2.68 million in taxes from the gaming revenues. This was a bit more than the $2.3 million from the previous fiscal year.

Gamblers hit the 1,150 slot machines of the venue hard, spending $1.24 billion with $1.12 billion in winnings earned. The month of March was the best one for the casino, with $15.97 million in gross gaming revenues. Interestingly enough, March was also the best year for the casino in the previous fiscal year.

Seeking Lower Tax Rate

The casino is trying to see the current tax rate they pay on gross gaming revenues reduced. They want to see the slot tax lowered. They pay 45% more than other casinos in New York as well as a competitor of Massachusetts, the MGM Springfield.

The company stated via email that they have seen gaming revenues grow recently, but expenses have grown as well. The casino operates in a highly competitive region and one that is continuing to expand on a regional basis. They pay 49% in slot taxes and other payments, which is making it difficult for the venue to compete.

Rivers Casino pointed out that other regional casinos have a competitive advantage as they can draw from the market of the venue. This then reduces the amount of revenues the casino can provide for education funding, community support and more.

It will be interesting to see if the casino will have their voice heard and a change made to the overall slot tax rate. Chances are the rate will stay the same unless the Rivers Casino can convince lawmakers that a reduction might result in more funds for the state in the long run.

DOJ States Lotteries Not Impacted by Wire Act Reinterpretation

Summary: US Department of Justice releases new memo stating lotteries are not affected by the new interpretation of the Wire Act.

When the United States Department of Justice announced that the Wire Act was being reinterpreted to include all online interstate gaming, several states began to panic. States that offered lottery gaming were worried that such games as the Powerball and Mega Millions would place their industries at risk. It seems the DOJ is now revealing that state lotteries are not impacted by the Wire Act reinterpretation, a change that could cause a federal court case against the DOJ come to an end.

New Memo

Online LotteryThe DOJ released their latest filing to the public, with the memo signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In the memo, the Deputy AG comments on the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that was provided earlier this year.

In the memo dated April 8th, Rosenstein states that the DOJ did not conclude that the state lottery groups are impacted by the new reinterpretation of the Wire Act, a decision that replaced the 2011 opinion.

It is believed that this memo was created in which to shutdown a federal case against the DOJ brought to life by the state lottery in New Hampshire. The scope of the Wire Act now seems to focus on online gambling, but not lottery gaming.

It is unclear how the Department of Justice can call other online gambling games different than the lottery, as the games do have an interstate component. The New Hampshire Lottery brought their case against the DOJ due to the face that multi-state lottery games exist. Data crosses state lines and payments are often interstate as well. These components would fall under the interstate gambling category as stated by the DOJ in their new ruling.

In the new memo, the Deputy AG did say that the Department of Justice is now reviewing the question as to whether or not the Wire Act applies to the state lotteries and vendors associated with the industry. Attorneys of the DOJ are to refrain from applying legalities to the state lotteries and vendors until the review has been completed.

Case Moving Forward

For now, it is unclear as to if this new memo will affecting the pending case against the DOJ involving the Wire Act. A decision in the case was set to take place in May, but if that is still the case, it is unknown. If the judge in the case chooses to dismiss the case, a state or other entity could choose to bring the case to a different federal court in the US. The DOJ could also find that the Wire Act does apply to lottery gaming and the case would start again.

It will be interesting to follow along and see how the case and the Wire Act reinterpretation go from here. For over five years, real money online gambling has thrived both in state and across state lines in the US. It seems foolish to back track after New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have been successful. Pennsylvania has now passed legislation set to start their new online industry this year and West Virginia recently passed legislation as well.

Hopefully the industry will be able to continue as is and more states will get in on the action in the future.

Georgia Senate Creates Committee to Study Gambling

Summary: After several efforts to see gambling come to pass in Georgia, state officials have now created a committee to study the industry.

Southern states in the US are more conservative, offering less gambling opportunities than other regions of the nation. Georgia is one such state that does not currently offer casino gaming, with lawmakers trying for some time to bring some type of gaming option to the region. Efforts to see casinos created as well as horse racing have failed, so the state Senate has now decided to create a committee to study gambling. The goal is to learn more so legislation can be created that has the ability to pass into law.

New Committee

House Resolution 367 was passed by the Senate, creating a new committee that will study how gambling will affect the state. The panel will consist of 11 members, mainly involving members of the Senate. The group will be meeting over the summer and fall to study how allowing casino gambling and horse racing will affect Georgia.

GeorgiaThe move is considered a step back for Senator Brandon Beach, an individual who has continued to fight for gambling in the state. Last year, Beach created legislation to see as many as three horse racing tracks crated in Georgia. The legislation moved out of a Senate panel but no further. It seems lawmakers want to understand the gambling industry more before allowing any type of new activity within their borders.

Beach saw the need and introduced the resolution to see the committee created. The senator is disappointed that his bill did not move forward but believes that the new committee will help to provide more support during the 2020 legislative session.

According to Beach, by having the right people at the table, learning and educating everyone on the issue, will help to see progress in the next year. The senator feels that legalizing casinos and horse racing would help to create jobs as well as additional revenues for the HOPE scholarship fund.

Much-Needed Funds

The main driving force behind any gambling expansion is the consideration or the HOPE scholarship fund. Since 1993, the state’s lottery has provided funds for the HOPE scholarship which had helped thousands of college students attend private and public college. With additional gambling options, the fund would have more money to help with any shortages.

Even though additional gambling would be benefiting the HOPE fund, conservative groups and leaders of faith organizations do not want to see any change. They continually remained opposed to any expansion, stating that they find it immoral as well as addictive. Opponents fear that any expansion would see an increase in crime as well.

Lawmakers like Beach have provided information to show opponents how the option can be of benefit, but they seem to be stuck on their own beliefs. We shall see over the coming weeks and months how the committee is able to study gambling and what they findings reveal. Many lawmakers would like to see a positive outcome and bring about legislation that will pass into law, allowing Georgia to expand their gambling industry.

Las Vegas Resorts Cutting Back on Fees to Bring in Traffic

Summary: Casino resorts in Las Vegas are suffering from weakened visitors’ numbers, choosing to cut back or remove resort fees in order to entice traffic.

With every industry, there is a slow period. In Las Vegas, the slow time is now, and resorts are having to make big changes in order to bring in traffic to meet revenue needs. Visitors numbers have gone down, so many casinos have opted to cut down their fees or even offer promotions that have no fee in order to see visitors come to their venue.

Cutting Back Meets a New Low

Las Vegas CasinosIn 2018, the visitor numbers for Las Vegas hit a new low. Many resorts are considering not raising fees at all this year just to ensure visitor numbers increase. In July of last year, the Wynn Las Vegas decided to stop charging parking fees for guests who stay overnight as well as those who were visiting during the day and spend less than $50.

To the Wynn, the fees were counter acting the type of customer service the venue wanted to provide. Several venues decided to start charging fees for visitors such as parking rates in 2018 and this seems to have backfired. For decades, visitors were able to stay on-site free of charge and regulars were not happy with the new charges.

General Fees

In general, it can cost as much as $50 a day to stay on the Strip or even off the Strip by way of parking. During the slow time frames, resorts often increase the price of a room by a whopping 100% just to make up for the traffic slow down. Other services may also be charged for including WiFi service, pool usage, gyms, etc. Guests who stay at such properties have to pay the fee regardless as to whether or not they will be using the service.

On top of that, many visitors think they are getting a good deal due to booking their room online. Consumers can view casino resorts at online travel agency sites and see the least expensive option. However, the price listed is per room and not the total cost. Once fees and taxes are accumulated, the cost is much higher.

The casino hotels also pay a commission to such travel agencies based on room price and not the resort fee. This means the casinos will be more willing to increase fees as they do not have to pay on fees, but do on the room price.

So, resorts are now opting out of charging too much for the fees in order to ensure their visitor numbers. However, some are not making any changes. MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. are two of the biggest operators in the region. They have decided to maintain their current fees for parking and resort charges after they were raised a few years ago.

Mark Frissora, the CEO of Caesars, stated that the company has no plans to change the fee structure. However, they are sensitive that they may hurt their own revenue growth and profitability if they rise the prices.

Caesars Entertainment will be offering free parking to visitors at The Linq Hotel this coming August to see if visitor numbers will be increased.

Overall, changes are being made to hopefully see visitors come back to Las Vegas at all times of the year. Visitor numbers were down to 42.1 million in 2018, which is a slight drop from the 42.9 million recorded in 2016. Operators are hopeful that they will see an increase in visitors so that they will continue to bring in much-needed revenues.

Sands Bethlehem Casino to Become Wind Creek Casino Resort

Summary: Sands Bethlehem Casino to be sold to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to become the Wind Creek Casino Resort.

The Sands Bethlehem Casino is one of the most successful in the state of Pennsylvania. The Las Vegas Sands Corp., the company behind the brand, is set to sell to the casino to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The acquisition will cost a total of $1.3 billion and has yet to be completed. Once finalized, the property will no longer be known as the Sands Bethlehem but will be called the Wind Creek Casino Resort.

Approved Name Change

Sands Casino BethlehemThe Poarch Band of Creek Indians may not be familiar to residents of Pennsylvania, but the tribe is very well-known in the south as a casino and resort operator. The tribe operates under the name Wind Creek Hospitality and want to use that name with the Sands Casino.

With the acquisition of the Sands Casino, the Wind Creek Hospitality group will enter the northeast gaming market for the very first time. It will also be the first time the group is operating in a state that offers online gambling in a regulated market.

Last week, the group was approved by the Bethlehem Planning Commission to change the name from the Sands to the Wind Creek Casino. The group has yet to earn the transfer of casino license approval from the Gaming Control Board but went ahead and sough the name change from the Planning Commission.

The Gaming Control Board has to hear the application of the two casino operators, the Sands Corp. and Wind Creek Hospitality. The transfer paperwork was filed back in late February and has yet to be heard by the Board. The Board doesn’t seem to ever be in a huge hurry to complete applications, as has been seen in the past with other considerations, including online gaming.

Plans for Expansion

As the Wind Creek Hospitality company takes over control of the Sands Casino, they will begin an expansion process. The group plans on spending $190 million to expand on the property’s offering. The expansion will include 300 new hotel guest rooms. The plans may also include an indoor water park.

On top of the casino acquisition, the Wind Creek group will be in control of the nearby outlet mall and events center.

Wind Creek wants to begin as quickly as possible with the casino project. Once the final approval has been given, officials will begin the construction process to get the ball rolling on the new guest rooms. With the project, as many as 400 jobs will be created on top of the 2,500 employees that are already working at the venue.

Currently the Sands Casino is the closest venue to New York City, so it stands to be profitable for the Wind Creek Hospitality group. The resort style casino is the closet option for visitors as well as residents of NYC.

For now, Wind Creek will be the best option in the region, staying on top in PA as well as a top choice for New York. However, the venue could potentially see competition as gaming operators are currently asking lawmakers in New York for a casino in the five boroughs of the state. Several operators are hoping to enter the NY market including Sands Corp.

If Sands were to get licensing in New York, then they would become a competitor to their former venue, soon to be taken over by Wind Creek.

Penn National Earns Preliminary Approval for Mini Casino

Summary: The Caernarvon Township provides preliminary approval for Penn National to develop mini casino despite resident backlash.

In late 2017, lawmakers in Pennsylvania approved an expansive gaming package that would see several changes to the gambling offerings of the state. Included in the mix were satellite casinos. Operators in state as well as outside qualified entities could bid for licensing to operate a smaller gaming venue with no more than 750 slots and 30 table games. Penn National was one such operator who was approved for licensing.

The company recently made their plans known for a $111 million facility in the Caernarvon Township. During a town hearing, the company provided their plans for approval. As many as 250 people attended the meeting with many against the plans. Residents were not happy with the decision to bring a gaming venue to the region, with fear of crime or gambling addiction.

Despite these fears, the supervisors of the township have decided to give preliminary approval for the final plans so that Penn National can move forward.

Approval Given

PennsylvaniaThe first meeting involving the casino took place in early March. This past week, another meeting took place where the supervisors gave their preliminary approval. Around 40 people attended this meeting with most giving their approval for the plans.

With the approval, Penn National has plans to move ahead with their 86,000 square foot facility, located near the Turnpike and Route 10. The plans include the maximum amount of slots and table games allowed as well as a restaurant and stage for entertainment.

Penn National wants to get started as quickly as possible so they can begin to reap the benefits of having a smaller gaming venue in the region.

Benefiting the Community

The project has been estimated to bring as much as $94 million to the local economy. During the construction phase, as many as 255 employment positions will be created. With the casino, an additional 250 jobs should be offered. In annual revenue, the township should see around $1.6 million.

According to the supervisors of the township, the planning commission recommended approving the plan with no revisions. Now, Penn National will have to provide agreements including financial security to the township. This must be completed within 90 days.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections must also approve the project along with the Berks County Conservation District. The project still has a long way to go. The company has plans to begin construction by next year and then open hopefully by the fall of 2020.

The state already has a quality casino industry, with the twelve land-based venues bringing in over $3.2 billion in 2018 revenues. With the introduction of satellite casinos, the state should see a large increase in land-based revenues once the facilities are in working order.

The overall gambling industry of the state should see a massive increase in revenues over the coming years as satellite casinos are integrated, online gambling comes in to play, video gaming terminals launch at truck stops and more of the changes are implemented.

It will be interesting to watch and see as the state develops with the many changes coming to fruition.

Deadline for Wire Act Opinion Compliance Pushed to June

Summary: New reports suggest that the date in which gaming operators must be in compliance with the latest Wire Act opinion by the Department of Justice has been moved to June 14th.

Just a few months ago, the Department of Justice decided to change their opinion of the Wire Act of 1961. This act was first changed in 2011 by the Obama Administration after the act was found to be out of date based on internet usage of today. At that time, the Act allowed states to begin offering online gambling services. The Act placed a ban on interstate activities, but only regarding sports betting. However, the new interpretation of the Wire Act includes all interstate gambling, which has several states up in arms due to being affected.

In the beginning, it was said that operators had until April 15thto comply. However, that date has now been pushed back to reportedly June 14th.

New Deadline Set for June

The DOJ has reportedly set a new deadline when it comes to when operators have to be in compliance of the legality changes. CDC Gaming Reports obtained a memo that was signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein which stated the new deadline was now 60 days after the previous deadline.

So far, the DOJ have yet to state what exactly they expect from operators by way of compliance. For now, states that offer online gambling are operating as normal. Once the DOJ actually makes it clear as to their position, then operators will know how to act.

The extension could be good for iGaming operators as it gives the DOJ take to change the opinion again or to limit the scope of interstate gaming. There have already been several court cases filed against the department based on the new Wire Act ruling. With the extension, the DOJ can make changes that might see such lawsuits dropped.

States Taking Preventative Action

PennsylvaniaDespite the little information as to what needs to be done regarding compliance, the ruling by the DOJ has already caused some states to act. Pennsylvania legalized online poker and casino gaming in 2017. They spent last year setting up regulations, licensing operators, etc. and are set to launch this year.

Due to the Wire Act change, the DOJ has now decided to locate all gaming servers of the industry within the state. This is an issue for some operators as they already offer services in New Jersey. Instead of using servers already located in New Jersey, they will have to find a location in Pennsylvania in order to be in compliance so to speak with the illegal interstate gambling opinion.

The World Series of Poker is also possibly hurt by the change. The WSOP takes place during the summer months in Nevada and offers players in New Jersey the opportunity to take part in online events, even Gold Bracelet options. This year, the schedule has a total of nine online gold bracelet events.

However, players in New Jersey may not be able to take part this year due to the DOJ ruling. The WSOP has yet to announce if they will still allow the players in the other state to take part or if gambling will be off limits.

Rivers Casino Set to Increase Sports Betting Efforts This March

Summary: Sports betting is in full swing in the US with Rivers Casino of Pennsylvania set to increase their efforts in the industry beginning in March.

Since mid-May 2018, sports betting has been the main gambling activity hitting the news. As many as eight states currently offer sports betting services and many more are set to get started in the future, thanks to a ruling provided by the United States Supreme Court. Beginning last summer, SCOTUS ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional, which led to sports betting being legalized across the nation.

The ability to offer sports betting in the US has caused lawmakers to spring into action. Across the nation, casino after casino and other gambling venues are beginning to offer sports betting services. To stay in competition and to earn the most money, US online gambling operations must continue to ramp up efforts. Just recently, the Rivers Casino announced plans for next month to offer major events involving sports betting activities.

March Madness

Rivers Casino Schenectady New YorkThe Rivers Casino will be offering special viewing parties titled March Mania. These parties will take place during the first two rounds of March Madness. The NCAA basketball tournament is a popular betting event for gamblers and this will be the first time that states other than Nevada can offer wagering on the series.

The parties will take place at the Rivers Casino from March 21st to the 24th. The goal is to highlight the series and offer an exciting atmosphere at the sportsbook. The Rivers has offered sports betting for some time now and hope to capitalize on the upcoming basketball tournament.

However, the special March Mania events will not be free. Players can purchase single chairs in the sportsbook for $75 each during the first four days of the event. For a table of four, the purchase price will be $200. The rate will include vouchers for food as well as drink. The price point will not make visitors who regularly frequent the sports book very happy, but apparently charging for seats is a common practice.

According to Andre Barnabei, the vice president of gaming for the venue, well-established sportsbooks located in Las Vegas often host such events with pay per visit charges. Locals have already begun to show interest in the upcoming March Mania event as tickets for seating have already been sold.

Another Option

For those who don’t want to pay for seating in the sportsbook, the Rivers events center will also be offering wagering options as well as broadcasting of the games. Admission to this area is free. However, seating in the front of the venue has a cost, with VIPs and groups of ten able to reserve tables. The price point for tables in this area of the facility are $350 which includes credits for food and drink.

The reservations are valid for a full day of games. This means that visitors can leave the casino as they so choose and return to their seat as they like.

It will be interesting to see how well received this new event style programing is and if the casino will be successful. Players may be open to purchasing seating for big events such as March Madness or they may want to hold on to their extra cash in order to use it for placing bets!

Bet America Now Offering Online Gaming in New Jersey

Summary: Along with an online sportsbook, Bet America has launched an online casino within the state of New Jersey.

Newcomer to the online gambling industry in New Jersey, BetAmerica has decided to not limit their offerings in the state to just sports betting. The brand not only launched an online sportsbook in the state, but also an online casino. The decision matches many in the industry as the option to offer multiple avenues of online gaming is proving to be very lucrative in the region.

Getting to know Bet America

The brand BetAmerica is not new to the gambling world but is a brand that many may not have heard of before. The company offered advanced deposit wagering in the past, where players could bet on horse and greyhound races. In the summer of 2018, the parent company of BetAmerica, Churchill Downs Incorporated, announced that they would be leveraging the brand with two brand new retail sportsbooks in Mississippi. These sports books are operated via SBTech.

Fast forward to this past January, and Churchill Downs decided to expand their partnership with SBTech and create a new online sportsbook offering in New Jersey. The company can provide services in the region based on a license held by the Golden Nugget.

Online Casino Gaming

Sports BettingIn New Jersey, there are already a ton of online casino sites. So, what can BetAmerica offer that others don’t? Will they be able to obtain a fairly decent market share? It seems the brand is taking a conservative approach when it comes to what they are offering. To begin, the casino is offering a small selection of games.

They are working with such software companies as IGT and Konami, with 89 games in total at the site. Of that number, 77 are online slots. The company is currently the smallest provider of online casino games.

Since slots reign supreme, players will find the table game selection and video poker are a bit small. The site offers only two blackjack games and two roulette along with six video poker titles.

The main goal of BetAmerica was to launch an online sportsbook but adding in casino games is a smart move. As players log on to place a sports wager, they will also be able to take a break and play a slot or two. Having the option available gives players the opportunity for something more. Even the smallest of offering should gain the attention of players as they get started with sports betting via the brand.

From the sportsbook, players can access the casino page. The casino operates in instant format, which means no software must be downloaded in order to play. From the home page of the casino, players can click on the categories of games to find what they are looking for. Categories include Featured, All Slots, High Limit, Blackjack, Video Poker, Table Games, Jackpots, Ways, Steppers and All Games.

It will be interesting to see in the coming months how the brand fares with their new gaming option. Will players visit the online casino? Will the sportsbook be popular? Only time will tell as to how successful BetAmerica will be in the online gambling industry of New Jersey.

Slot Revenues Continue to Decline in Connecticut

Summary: Casinos in Connecticut continue to see poor results when it comes to slot gaming revenues

For most casinos, the slots are the most popular game on the floor. Players both young and old can spend a great deal of time spinning the reels. However, at the casinos in Connecticut, the revenues from slot games continue to be on a decline. Both the Foxwoods Casino and the Mohegan Sun are seeing decreases when it comes to revenues from slots, with experts stating the decline is a result of industry trends in the region.

Competition and Bankroll Problems

MGM SpringfieldAnalysts feel that the issue with the slot revenues is due to competition in neighboring states as well as players having less disposable income. Finance Department at Boston College associate professor Rev. Richard McGowan recently spoke with Casino.org, stating that the decline is not surprising. The MGM Springfield was clearly going to be competition and they have hurt the two gaming venues in Connecticut, even though the new venue has not done as well as expected.

The MGM Springfield earned $19.7 million in January which was the smallest amount ever earned for a month period. Players not only have the MGM venue to visit but they can also travel to nearby Rhode Island where sports betting is offered.

Another issue that is at play is the shrinking economy in Connecticut. Within the last decade, the economy has decreased by around 10%. Household incomes are smaller so there is less disposable money. Players have less money they can spend on gaming so player traffic is much lower at the gaming venues.

In the past, the two tribal operated venues relied heavy on players from Connecticut. Anywhere from 70 to 75 percent of revenues generated from slot games were from players living in the state. However, as neighboring states began to launch casino gaming, players were traveling to these venues due to location or the newness of the venue.

Potential plans for gaming venues in Bridgeport and East Windsor will also cause issue in the future, most likely. The Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are planning on launching new casinos in these regions. Once the two new venues are in operation, it will most likely pull away even more traffic from the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos. This will hurt revenues as well.

On top of that, MGM Resorts is trying to open a gaming venue in Bridgeport as well as soon to acquire the Empire Resort in New York. These two venues will be even more competition as MGM improve their operations.

January Revenues

The Mohegan Sun earned $40.7 million in January, which was a 9.4% decrease from January 2017. This was the lowest slot revenues for the casino in almost two decades. Foxwoods earned $31 million, which was an 8.5% drop. The total was actually the lowest monthly revenue numbers for the casino in their 25 years of operation.

While experts say income issues and competition are the problem, the casinos have a different idea. CEO of Foxwoods, Rodney Butler, has said the drop is due to bad weather and Rhode Island casinos now offering sports betting. Only time will tell if the venues will be able to improve and what the actual cause for the drop is.