Non-Tribal Gaming Appears to Fall Short in New York

by Jim Hall

New YorkThree non-tribal gaming venues of New York has seen revenue earnings over the past few months that fall short of expected projections.

In the state of New York, non-tribal casino gaming is relatively new. Three venues currently offer gambling options via commercial casinos and according to information provided by the New York Gaming Commission, the venues have fell short in generated gaming and tax revenues based on previous projections. It’s still early but the gaming industry is already showing that it may not provide what the state first expected.

Is the Market Saturated?

The three casino gaming venues may not seem like too much but with racinos and tribal venues in the mix, it creates a large grouping of gaming options. One casino owner already feels the market is saturated. Owner of the Tioga Downs Casino, Jeff Gural, has stated that the market upstate is saturated. Everyone is competing for the same customer which has resulted in lesser earnings.

Tioga Downs began offering full casino gaming back in December and has been able to generate $46.3 million for gross gaming revenues through July. $15.3 million of that amount was paid to the state and local governments. This amount is around 35% less than what was originally projected by Gural. The casino owner is hoping that business will pick up, especially after a hotel at the venue opens later on in the year. He still does not feel that the earnings will meet projections.

The del Lago Resort & Casino located in the Finger Lakes region also has seen less than stellar revenues. This venue was able to earn just over $76 million with $22.7 million going towards the local and state government. The third commercial casino of the state, Rivers Casino and Resort, opened back in February. By July, the casino had earned $70.1 million with $22.4 million going to the local/state governments.

Del Lago officials have yet to state if revenues seen are meeting goals set but the license applications sent to the state revealed more ambitious projections. The casino predicted that within the first year of operations, they would be able to produce from $59 million to just over $74 million. The Rivers Casino had set projections at $69 million to $86 million within the first year.

Too Many Choices

It seems that there is not enough business in the area to be able to handle the influx of gaming options now that the three venues are now in business. With casinos, tribal gaming venues and racetrack casinos, the venues are so close together that they are not able to earn enough to meet the projected revenues.

In 2013, the state decided to limit the number of commercial casinos that could be created via a referendum after Governor Cuomo and supporters argued that the gaming options would create additional boost to the economy. With the three new casinos in operation, the gaming market of New York now contains 6 tribal casinos and 11 racinos. A fourth casino will open in the Catskills in 2018.

New York not only has a full gaming market but they must also compete with neighboring states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Each of these states has a booming casino gaming market and offer top options when it comes to slots and table gaming. Casinos in New York will have to offer quality incentives or special deals in order to appeal to those located just outside the state or even to those living or visiting New York.

While the revenues seem grim, gaming officials of New York as well as Governor Cuomo have stated that it is too early to judge the success of the gaming venues. We shall see in the coming months if an increase in earnings is created or if there is just too much gaming in the state to reach projected revenue numbers.