(John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) less The Rivers Casino and Resort Tuesday Sept. As of the end of August, Rivers had made 37 percent of the $222 million it projected it would make in the first year. more New York state's three licensed casinos are hundreds of millions of dollars behind what they projected they would make in their first year of operation.
As of the end of August, Rivers had made 37 percent of the $222 million it projected it would make in the first year.
Del Lago, Rivers and Tioga Downs had brought in $222 million in combined gross gaming revenue by the end of August — $366 million less than what they predicted they would make in 2017 when their projects were pitched to the state Gaming Facility Location Board, according to data provided to the Times Union earlier this month by the New York state Gaming Commission.
As a result, tax revenues received by the state and the local municipalities that were to benefit from the casino businesses are also a fraction of what was promised — $70 million sent to government coffers by summer's end. Andrew Cuomo said would come from all the casinos once the fourth, Resorts World, opens in Thompson, Sullivan County, next year.
The gaming industry and local officials who pushed for the casinos say it takes a few years to see how business will fare, and that the economically challenged municipalities are still benefiting from the more than 3,300 jobs created.
When pushing for the public vote in 2013 that opened the way for destination resort casinos, Cuomo noted that Las Vegas-like facilities would also bring tourism dollars back to New York from out of state.
But casino operators recently said at a panel discussion in Saratoga Springs that the industry has already reached saturation, with the upstate market shouldering six race tracks with video lottery terminals and six Indian nation casinos — with a seventh planned for Madison County.
The owner of Tioga Downs, a real estate executive based in Manhattan, said gaming consultants estimated the initial business the casino would generate as part of the license application process, which Tioga made in 2015 after the state acquiesced to allow another casino to be built in the Southern Tier.
But "looking at the numbers," said Jeff Gural, who built the casino at an already existing harness track, "it appears (the consultants) were just wrong." Business at del Lago in Tyre, Seneca County, since it officially opened in February is the slowest of the three casinos, generating 33 percent of the $263 million in gross gaming revenues it said it would make the first year.
If del Lago — which was built by Rochester mall developer Tom Wilmot — continues to bring in its highest revenue per month, it would still fall $120 million short of its first-year estimate.
Del Lago, with about double the number of slot machines of Rivers and Tioga, is also on average making the least per machine.
The casino is within an hour of Oneida Nation's Yellow Brick Road and Turning Stone Resort casinos to the east, and within 30 minutes of Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack to the west.