Upstate New York Casinos on Upswing After a Slow Start

Casino Building
When the four casinos opened up in upstate New York back in 2017, they had a sluggish start. They struggled to make gains and have a steady stream of workable revenue come through their doors. And while they’re not racking in the big bucks just yet, big improvements have been made in attracting customers and boosting their revenue.

All four casinos experienced a brighter 2019 than they did in 2018, with each casino reporting a revenue increase. As a record reviewed by the USA TODAY Network from the state Gaming Commission showed, Resorts World Catskills had the biggest revenue increase from the year prior, at a whopping 48% gross gaming increase in its second year of business.

According to the review, the total revenue jump for the four casinos combined last year was 18%, or $618 million.

Bob DeSalvio, president of Genting New York State, the company that owns Resorts World Catskills, said that a “A 24-month ramp up period is not unexpected in today’s environment.” Adding the slower build up of a two-year period is more normal for gaming properties.

“If you look at the history of regional gaming properties over their lifetime, it’s about two years for them to really click in.”

From Gray to Rose Revenue Predictions

New York took a gamble back in 2014 when they handed gaming licenses to the four gaming properties standing in the state today: Del Lago, Rivers, Resorts World Catskills, and Tioga Downs.

All four casinos were unanimous slow-burners to start, and earning potentials looked meek. In fact, Del Lago and Resorts World Catskills were on the brink of bankruptcy and sold off last year.

Since being bought out last year, both companies have seen an increase in revenue. Del Lego’s economic impact was at $270 million and a gaming revenue of $157 million. This was 4% revenue jump for 2018.

With mobile sports betting becoming legalized across the country, this remains an important year for even rosier revenue predictions should mobile sports betting get the official green light.

Advocating for Lower Tax Rates for Long-Term Profitability

Many of the casino owners report taking a hit from the high tax rates, and say that the current rate is impeding on their ability to reach their long-term profitability goals, especially in a highly competitive regional casino market.

“While we continue to make progress in growing our gaming revenue,” Justin Moore, General Manager of Rivers, said in a statement, “we operate in a highly competitive and expanding regional gaming market where we pay the highest effective tax rate of all the commercial casinos which makes it difficult for us to compete effectively.”

In April, the first draft study on the future of NY’s gambling industry is set to be released. It comes at good timing, as the legislative sessions will end in June. The study could be a determining factor in the state Governor and state Legislature to reconvene on their stance of the state’s current gambling laws.