New Yorkers Outraged by Talk of Del Lago Casino Bailout

Del Lago Casino Bailout

When he began lobbying for a casino in 2010, Wilmot said, “I think it’s a very workable scheme…I think it will be very successful.”

New York state politicians appear unanimous in their unwillingness to bail out Del Lago resort in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. On Monday, Del Lago’s principal owner, Thomas Wilmot, suggested the 13-month old casino might need a bailout from the state.

Mr. Wilmot, a Rochester-area mall developer, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, “I think we need some help at this point, and what the future holds, time will tell.”

The developer, who has never been involved in operating casino before, did not suggest what that “help” might be. Thomas Wilmot emphasized his company is solvent at the moment, but will not be always without changes to their business model.

Thomas Wilmot added, “We’re paying the bills. Long term, it isn’t going to be sustainable without some help.”

Andrew Cuomo Dismisses Bailout Talk

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was quick to dismiss talk of a bailout. When discussing Wilmot’s comments, Gov. Cuomo told a group of reporters, “The upstate gaming casinos are private concerns.”

“They bid, they made an investment, and some of them will say they are not doing as well as they hoped or would have expected. But they’re private concerns, and I don’t want to get into the business of bailing out private concerns.”

Joseph Griffo: “Unsettling”

State Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-Rome), who represents the 47th District (Utica-Rome), said he believed Thomas Wilmot wants a tax break for his casino. Sen. Griffo, who is a member of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering¬†Committee. said the Del Lago owners want “a tax break somewhere around $14 million.”

Griffo added that he thought the suggestion was “unsettling”.

Gary Finch: “Absurd”

Assemblyman Gary Finch (R-Auburn) said the suggestion Del Lago needed a bailout was “absurd”. In a statement posted on his official Facebook page, Finch said, “If this wasn’t such a serious matter, I would’ve thought this was an early April Fool’s Day joke. Asking hardworking families to bail out a casino would be absolutely unacceptable.”

Finch said of the bailout suggestion, “The paint on this place isn’t even dry, and they want a bailout? It’s absurd.”

Del Lago opened in February 2017 as one of four land-based casinos which were supposed to create jobs and inject investment dollars into Upstate New York communities. Del Lago Casino fell about $100 million short of a projected $250 million in casino revenues it projected when Wilmot’s firm submitted a development plan in 2012.

Moody’s Downgrades Del Lago Credit Rating

Moody’s Rating Service downgraded Del Lago’s credit rating in recent months, stating that the casino-resort in Waterloo could have trouble paying back construction costs. All four non-tribal casino operations which opened in the past 15 months have struggled to meet revenue projections, likely because they joined an over-saturated casino market.

When it handed out casino licenses, New York State’s siting panel chose to give approval to local New York developers instead of the big Las Vegas casino companies or international developers like Genting.

“Bad Planning, Bad Siting, Bad Decision Making”

Sen. Joseph Griffo, whose role on the Racing and Gaming Committee makes him an influential voice on casino-related issues, said he was not in favor of a tax break for Del Lago Resort. Griffo said, “The news that del Lago is struggling with revenue is disappointing, concerning and unsettling.”

“When gaming expansion began, New Yorkers were told by the Governor that the new casinos would support tourism, bring more jobs, and more revenue to support schools and lower taxes. It now appears that that is not the case and this is another illustration of bad planning, bad siting and bad decision making.”

Joe DeFrancisco: “Waste of Taxpayers’ Funds”

State Sen. Joe DeFrancisco (R-Dewitt), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run against New York governor against Andrew Cuomo, also called the bailout suggestion absurd. DeFrancisco stopped short of criticizing Andrew Cuomo’s siting panel for giving a casino license to Thomas Wilmot, but instead blasted the Rochester developer for his lack of vision and lack of execution.

Sen. DeFrancisco, who has a marginal 21% to 17% edge over Marc Molinaro in a Sienna College poll with a whopping 49% Undecided, blasted Wilmot’s bailout talk: “This is a developer who has been trying for years, begging almost, to build a casino. They (del Lago) did projections on what they expected to make — they took the risks in the hope they ended up with a profit. To try all those years, when he finally gets what he asks for, to say his projections were wrong and he needs help from the taxpayers of this state — that is absurd.”

The gubernatorial candidate added, “It’s not economic development, it’s just a waste of taxpayers’ funds.”