New York Casinos Generate Disappointing First Year Revenues

New York Casino Revenues 2017

Del Lago, Rivers Casino, and Tioga Downs all are well under the projected revenues for 2017.

The New York Gaming Commission released revenue figures for the recently opened casinos in Upstate New York, but all three appear to be well below their projections. Tioga Downs, Del Lago, and Rivers Casino appear to be a combined $210 million under their projected revenues for the year.

The commission tried to spin the early results, noting that casino operations have to build customer bases over time. Both online and land-based casino operations which launched in the past few years fell under the projections at first.

It was noted that the operations had their grand opening before their affiliated hotels and restaurants were complete. Without the full amenities, the resort complex did not generate the revenues-per-visitor one might expect.

Critics would argue that revenue projections should have taken into account many of the factors that caused the shortfall. Thus, it is a major disappointment to see all three casinos underperform. Since the reason for launching casinos was to help local communities economically and to generate more tax revenues for the state, any shortfall has real world consequences.

New York Casinos 1st Year Revenues

Rivers Casino & Resort was supposed to generate $222 million by now, but it is $80 million short of its projections — a factor of over one-third of the entire revenues. Del Lago Resort, once called simply Lago Resort, had an even worse result. Del Lago, which won 15 awards recently for its amenities and presentation, was supposed to generate $263 million in gross revenues, but is $100 million under the projections.

Tiago Downs, a racetrack which was given casino gambling or racino facilities, was expected to make $103 million. It is $30 million under the projection. That makes for a $210 million shortfall, while collecting $378 million in revenues.

Jeff Babinski, the executive vice president of Del Lago Resort, said in a press release, “While the revenue in the first eight months has been below projections, we are confident that we are moving in the right direction.”

Chris Christie Oversold NJ Online Casino Revenues

The problem is politicians in the near-past have oversold their casino plans. When Gov. Chris Christie wanted to push online gambling legalization, he claimed New Jersey online casinos and poker sites would generate $1 billion a year. Instead, they generated $120 million the first year.

Excuses could be made. Geolocation technology did not work correctly. Credit card payments often declined, because indidivual Visa and MasterCard card issuer decline online gaming payments. PokerStars had to wait two years to launch, due to fallout from Black Friday.

Four years later, New Jersey online gambling generates around $200 million. While that is a far more respectable figure — and it has helped Atlantic City casinos achieve profitability — it is still 20% of the figure Chris Christie boasted the iGaming niche would generate. One gets the idea that Christie was greasing the wheels of the electorate, which voters do not like.

Gary Pretlow Is “Waiting to See”

Undersell and overperform, general wisdom states. The failure to do so creates a more skeptical public, and more skeptical public officials. New York State Representative Gary Pretlow, a key figure in the ongoing New York online gambling legalization issue, said the revenue figures for the three casinos have caused him to have a wait-and-see approach on iGaming.

Traffic Generation paraphrased Rep. Pretlow in a tweet, saying the veteran New York lawmaker said, “I’m waiting to see how our states’ new land-based casinos will do, before jumping into Internet gaming.”

Pretlow’s Support for Online Gambling

Of course, Gary Pretlow might be looking for an excuse. While State Sen. Bonacci has been a solid supporter of the online gambling legislation in the New York Senate, Gary Pretlow has gone back-and-forth on the issue. In December 2016, when it appeared that a New York iGaming bill might be possible, Pretlow withdrew his support in the latter stages of negotiations, saying he needed to study geolocation and other technological issues.

In the summer of 2017, as the online gambling legislation once more was discussed, Gary Pretlow said he had discussed with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement their system and was satisfied it would work in New York State. Yet Pretlow equivocated in the days leading up to the deadline for such legislation to be approved. Ultimately, the New York online gambling bill was tabled for the remainder of 2018. Whatever the case, underperforming revenue figures at the very least provide an excuse for people not to join the bandwagon.

Resorts World Catskills’ 2018 Launch

Proponents of land-based and online gambling in New York must hope 2018 will provide better news. 2018 is when Resorts World Catskills, the former Montreign Resort which opens in early 2018, performs up to its projections. Resorts World Catskills should have the advantage of a prior New York State database of customers, because it is affiliate with Resorts World New York City, the Queens-based casino owned by the Malaysian multinational conglomerate, Genting Group. Customer data is an overlooked portion of casino success, so Resorts World Catskills might be better prepared to compete from the start.