Tioga Downs Hopes Hotel Perks Up Revenue For Struggling Casino

1 Tioga Downs hotel opens on Nov. 3
2 Can a hotel boost the casino’s revenue? Tioga Downs may be the oldest of the upstate New York casinos, but it is the last one to get its own hotel. Both Rivers Casino Schenectady and del Lago Casino already have hotels attached to their respective properties. Tioga Downs will officially open its own hotel in a matter of days though. Tioga Downs hotel opens on Nov. 3 The smallest of the three casinos, Tioga Downs was a harness racetrack before converting to a full-scale casino last year. The next phase in its evolution is this new 161-room hotel. The new building includes:
Six stories
Three swimming pools
Event center/conference space
Banquet facility
Fitness center
P.J. Clarke’s restaurant Like Rivers Casino, the Tioga Downs hotel is more of a boutique hotel than a massive resort. Currently the casino is the second-largest employer in the county. The hotel launch will only create more job opportunities for the people of Nichols, NY. Can a hotel boost the casino’s revenue? Tioga Downs is the smallest of the three new commercial casinos upstate. It also takes in significantly less revenue than its two competitors. However, there is a bright side. All three casinos are not living up to revenue projections. Of the three though, Tioga Downs is the closest to hitting the benchmarks industry experts and lawmakers set for its first full year of operation. The hope is the convenience of a hotel on property will give Tioga Downs a shot in the arm. When The Landing Hotel at Rivers Casino opened in July, the casino revenu spiked to $3.9 million for the month. That is not only the best month for Rivers since its opening month took in $3.7 million, it is also the top performance by any of the three casinos so far. This despite the fact that del Lago is the largest of the three venues. Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural certainly hopes his investment in the former racino pays off in a similar way. That is not to say he is optimistic though. Earlier this year, Gural told Reuters what many others hypothesize is the problem behind the sagging revenues. Namely, that the upstate New York casino market is oversaturated. “I think the market is saturated and we’ve got a lot of work to do to get the revenues where they need to be,” Gural explained. Gural does not have only New York casinos to worry about either. Nichols, NY is just north of the Pennsylvania border, so Tioga Downs is also competing with Pennsylvania casinos like Mohegan Sun Poconos.

New Resorts World Partnership Could Be Customer Service Game-Changer In NY

1 IGT products feature more than just casino games
2 Cardless Connect could revolutionize casino rewards
3 Cardless Connect will be featured at Resorts World The forthcoming took one step closer to opening its doors this week. The New York casino inked a deal with International Game Technology (IGT). As part of the deal, IGT will provide the property with casino management tools, casino games, and other related products. Resorts World is scheduled to open early next year. IGT products feature more than just casino games IGT is certainly best known for providing casino games to properties. However, the company’s portfolio extends beyond just slot machines and electronic casino games. The company keeps adding a number of products to help casino operations, including:
IGT Advantage, a digital casino management program
IGT Casinolink, a modular CMS
SYSTEM2Go, a slot management program
Cardless Connect, a new player rewards system Cardless Connect could revolutionize casino rewards Certainly all of these programs will come in handy at Resorts World Catskills. However, the one drawing the most headlines right now is Cardless Connect. Stations Casinos in Nevada are currently testing the technology in a pilot program. If it proves effective, it could be a customer service game-changer. The Cardless Connect system uses an app on your phone instead of a physical player rewards card. So, rather than insert your card into every game you play, you simply scan in with your Cardless Connect app to earn rewards points. The Stations Casinos corporate blog offers a tutorial on the technology. Requirements include:
The Stations Casino App
A Boarding Pass rewards club card
A Bluetooth-enabled phone
Connection to the casino Wi-Fi Now if players at these casinos forget their card or leave it in a machine, they can still earn points and spend comps, so long as they have their phone with them. Cardless Connect will be featured at Resorts World When Resorts World Catskills opens next year, it will be the last of the new upstate casinos to launch. However, this Cardless Connect feature is something that will help set this new property apart from its competitors. That is not the only thing the property is excited about regarding the new partnership though. Montreign Operating Company President & CEO Ryan Eller explained in the official press release: Construction on the $1.2 billion project is progressing on schedule. Upon completion, Resorts World will feature 100,000 square feet of gaming space with over 2,100 slot machines and 130 table games. There will also be an 18-story hotel with world-class amenities. In total, the property will cover 1.6 million square-feet. It may be last to market, but it will certainly be the largest of these new upstate casinos, now with state-of-the-art casino technology to boot.

Cuomo Tells Niagara Falls No Dice On Budget Relief After Seneca Payment Stoppage

1 Cuomo ignores Niagara’s pleas
2 While Niagara begs for help, Cuomo giving aid to other NY cities
3 Local governments too reliant on casino funds New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is more than happy to leave Niagara Falls hanging. He recently announced the state will offer no relief for the casino city and tourist town in the wake of Seneca Nation’s payment stoppage on its four tribal casino properties. Cuomo ignores Niagara’s pleas Niagara Falls might be the town most hurt by the bitter, heated battle between Seneca leadership and Cuomo over the terms of the tribal casino compact. Cuomo has no sympathy though. His statement is laced with jabs at Niagara for expecting too much support from the state: Interstingly, Niagara Mayor Paul Dystra also invoked the word unfair earlier this year when discussing the state’s Seneca feud: Here is why Dystra arguably has a stronger point. For the past several months, Seneca representatives essentially begged Cuomo to meet with them and discuss some sort of compromise. Cuomo responded with radio silence. Then, Cuomo publicly refused to meet with them. Moreover, he threatened to build another NY commercial casino in Niagara. Meanwhile, some legal experts claim the state does not have a strong case when it comes to compact language. While Niagara begs for help, Cuomo giving aid to other NY cities To add injury to Cuomo’s public insults, the Governor’s office recently announced it was helping another northern New York city’s economic development. Earlier this month, Cuomo announced the state was giving upstate city Tonawanda $2.5 million to put towards economic development. He followed that up with an announcement another $10 million in state funds would go to Genessee County. By comparison, the state has not aided Niagara in nearly 10 years. City Council member Kenny Tompkins expressed his frustration to local news outlets: Seneca Nation and the state are currently in the planning stages for binding arbitration. This is a process that could take several years. In fact, the last time the two groups went into binding arbitration, it took four years to reach a resolution. Local governments too reliant on casino funds This timetable is why Dyster is not the only person complaining that local governments are unfairly suffering. However, Dyster is arguably a cautionary tale is in own right. Consider this, from the Niagara Falls Reporter: Also per the Reporter, the state Comptroller says Niagara Falls will be completely broke by year’s end without state intervention. Befor Seneca stopped payments on its tribal casinos, they contributed roughly 15 percent of the city’s total operational budget. With financial woes that dire, tax increases are on the horizon. Dyster currently has a proposal with a three percent hike for residents. Additionally, he wants a 14 percent increase for local businesses. Those numbers could go higher in the years to come as well. Photo by Anna_Land / Shutterstock.com

Read Schenectady’s Lips: Rivers Casino Means Lower Taxes

1 Schenectady wants to drop property taxes 1 percent
2 Not every county benefits as much from Rivers Casino Most of the headlines coming out of New York regarding casinos is not positive. Just last week, we provided some context to just how much the new upstate NY casinos are underperforming. Certainly lawmakers are looking at other avenues to pad those revenue numbers. Online poker will be back in the discussion this year. Sports betting is also getting some time at the table. Still though, there are some positive things coming from these new properties. Schenectady County can attest to that. Schenectady wants to drop property taxes 1 percent Last week, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy proposed a 1 percent decrease in the county’s property taxes next year. if it goes, this would be the third-straight year the county reduced taxes. Last year, local lawmakers agreed to reduce taxes four percent. The 2016 reduction came about because lawmakers assumed the projections about Rivers Casino revenue would be in line with the property’s actual performance. What is encouraging is that, even though the casino is underperforming, taxes are still trending down. The latest budget from the county expects $30.78 million in tax revenue from Rivers next year. That is $1 million higher than 2017 numbers. A one percent tax decrease may not sound that impressive. It does amount to about $13 in taxes per individual. More importantly, it is helping establish a trend in a county with the highest combined county, city, and school property taxes in the area. Even with the underwhelming performance, McCarthy is still thrilled with the property so far, per the Daily Gazette: Not every county benefits as much from Rivers Casino Certainly Schenectady County is happy enough with Rivers Casino so far. Not every county benefits quite as much as that one though. Rivers pays 10 percent tax on table games earnings and a state-high 45 percent on slot machines. The state divies up the money as follows:
80 percent to schools
10 percent to Schenectady County and the city of Schenectady
10 percent divided among surrounding counties “There’s no question it’s a significant amount of money,” said Saratoga County Administrator Spencer Hellwig told the Daily Gazette. “We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can’t discount it as immaterial.” However, not every county relies heavily on Rivers the way Schenectady is. As Matthew Osenfort of Montgomery County explains, it is enough money to be useful, but it is not going to a difference-maker when lawmakers put together a budget. Nonetheless, there is something good coming out of these upstate casinos, even though the revenues still have a long way to go.

New Report Shows Just How Off 2017 Casino Revenue Projections Will Be

1 Tioga Downs only halfway to $103 million projection
2 Rivers Casino poker is booming, but not much else is
3 del Lago might be faring worst of all People within the New York casino industry have been talking for months about how disappointing revenue at the new casinos is. These conversations tend towards the general though. Thanks to a new report from the Albany Times-Union, it is now clear exactly how every facet of the three upstate casinos are performing. The report looks at each casino’s projected revenue compared to how much each property generated so far in 2017. Additionally, it looks at how slots, table games, and the poker rooms are performing at each site. Tioga Downs only halfway to $103 million projection Tioga Downs is the smallest of the three new upstate casinos. It did have one competitive advantage though, in that it was first to market. The casino opened in Deeember of 2016. Technically, the casino existed before that as a race track and video slots parlor. Now it is a 1,000-slot casino with table games and a poker room. The state expected roughly $103 million in revenue this year. Through August, the property has roughly half that with $52 million in revenue. Tioga Downs has an average win of $197 per slot each day. Table games do not bode as well. There are 32 different tables at Tioga which collectively take in around $200,000 each month. As for the 16-table poker room? It barely has a pulse. It has not generated more than $20,000 a week in rake since May. Nonetheless, of the three, Tioga Downs is actually the property closest to on track for the year, which is truly saying something about the performance of both Rivers Casino Schenectady and del Lago Casino. Rivers Casino poker is booming, but not much else is Perhaps the real problem at the heart of Rivers Casino’s revenue is that expectations were too high. After all, of the three properties, it is the one with the best average win per slot machine at $222. In addition to the 1,100 slots on site, Rivers also boasts a very successful poker room. As noted, Tioga Downs’ poker scene is basically non-existent. Meanwhile, Rivers management put time and effort into developing a poker scene by hosting tournament series and televised poker program Poker Night in America. The result is a room that generates over $100,000 in rake each week. During peak times, like its Memorial Day tournament, the number jumped to over $180,000. Another important spike came during the weekend the casino’s partner Landing Hotel launched and table games had a week’s take of over $2 million. Comparatively, the property’s table games return fluctuate between $600,000 and $1 million. That is the best performance of all three casinos. This despite the fact Rivers has 67 table games compared to the 99 at del Lago. Nonetheless, the property’s $82 million in revenue generated since its February opening is a far cry from the $222 million expected in 2017. That number came directly from Rivers when submitting for its casino license. Needless to say, it is unlikely the property finishes above $200 million, let alone up to projections. del Lago might be faring worst of all Rivers Casino is not living up to projections, but at least it is performing better than the competitors in most key categories. The same cannot be said for the biggest casino of the three, del Lago. With 99 table games and 2,000 slot machines, the property still only has $88 million in revenue on the year. In part because of just how many machines there are, the slot win is a mere $155/day. Meanwhile, table games revenue struggles to exceed $1 million per week. At times, the return from those casino games is just $200,000 or $300,000 for a seven-day period. At least the 14-table poker room fares better than Tioga Downs with around $50,000 a week in rake, but that is not going to be nearly enough to meet projections. So far, del Lago has generated just one-third of the projected $263 million in revenue this year. With slots, table games, and poker all on a downward decline, this is the casino arguably in the most financial trouble. Of course, lawmakers in the state have insisted there is nothing to worry about, but unless expectations are greatly revised, it appears these casinos will continue to disappoint for quite a while, especially with another casino, Resorts World Catskills, scheduled to enter the crowded marketplace.

Bonacic Says Sports Betting Could Save Sagging NY Casino Revenues

1 AGA panel focused on casinos’ impact on local communities
2 Sports betting, not online poker, seen as the golden goose Lately there has been more bad news than good news for the New York casino industry. There is the headline-drawing fight between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Seneca Nation. And, of course, there is the increasingly disconcerting fact those new commercial casinos upstate are not living up to expectations. Thankfully, there were some optimistic moments in this week’s American Gambling Association-hosted panel at Rivers Casino in Schenectady, NY. AGA panel focused on casinos’ impact on local communities Perhaps it is because people are criticizing these NY casinos, the American Gambling Association (AGA) hosted its recent panel. Certainly some of the discussion included lackluster revenues. However, there were more positive takes than negative coming out of the event. For example, Rivers staffers tried to play down revenues and play up the job market. The new casino generated over 1,100 permanent new jobs. That is not even accounting for the work construction of the property created either. Even better news on the job front is that turnover in the area is below state average, coming in at 32 percent. Despite less tax revenue for the area than expected so far, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy remained optimistic: Given that the area Rivers exists on was an abandoned site for several decades prior, the area seems happy with progress, even if it is slow. Sports betting, not online poker, seen as the golden goose In terms of progress, 2017 was not the worst year for bringing online poker to New York. The state Senate voted yes in the bill, but it died in the state Assembly. This happened in 2016 as well. The difference is, thanks to a new law, the bill will pick back up where it left off in 2018. However, based on this meeting, it sounds like casino operators think there is a different means to generate revenue for casinos: sports betting. In fact, the very lawmaker who introduced the online poker bill in the Senate at the beginning of the year is at the forefront of this new idea. State Sen. John Bonacic spoke about the merits of sports betting at the meeting: The Legislative Gazette also reported similar sentiments from AGA spokesman Paul Doty: The NJ case is in the midst of filing briefs before SCOTUS hears argument later this year. Should the court overturn the federal sports betting law, several states will likely clamor to get in on the multi-billion dollar industry. Given how much gambling revenue New York already loses to New Jersey, it makes sense to get in on sports betting on the ground floor since its neighbor most assuredly will be. Photo by BravoKiloVideo / Shutterstock.com

Nobody’s Going To Put This Catskills Resort In The Corner

1 Grossinger’s used to be the top Catskills resort
2 Are the hopes for Resorts World too high though? If a certain New Yorker gets his way, “Dirty Dancing” is going to be more than just a movie. Louis Cappelli is hoping to revive the Catskills resort Grossinger’s, which inspired the fictional Kellerman’s from the movie. He hopes the forthcoming Resorts World Catskills will renew enough interest in the region to restore it to its mid-century glory days. Grossinger’s used to be the top Catskills resort In the 1950s, Grossinger’s was the place to visit in the upstate New York area. The property even hosted scandalous wedding between Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fischer. Now though, the property is, well, a dump. The estate is in such disarray that Cappelli applied to the state to classify a portion of it as contaminated. He hopes the designation, and the government funding that comes with it, is the first step in its revitalization. He told the New York Times he has high hopes that now is the time to bring Grossinger’s into the 21st century: Cappelli and Grossinger’s have no affiliation with Resorts World. Nonetheless, the idea of a major Catskills resort rejunivating the area has plenty of people nostalgic for more than just Patrick Swayze. Rather than create a retro version of Grossinger’s straight out of the 50s, Cappelli envisions a more modern hotel. Instead of ballroom dancing and Vaudeville entertainers, he hopes for yoga and contemporary fine dining. Are the hopes for Resorts World too high though? Certainly the idea of once again having the time of your life in the Catskills sounds appealing. However the numbers coming out of the other upstate New York casinos so far are not anything to dance about. So far, the three new commercial casinos in the upstate area are universally struggling. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it is too early to jump to any conclusions about the new properties. He certainly hopes they find their way soon, as he is the one who okayed four new upstate properties. Resorts World Catskills is the last of the group to open. When it opens, it will be competing with Tioga Downs, Rivers Casino, and del Lago, which all opened in the last year. Meanwhile, Resorts World is still not scheduled to open for another six months in March of 2018. Those within the casino industry say the region is too oversaturated for these upstate casinos to succeed. The NY Gaming Commission is more optimistic though. Representative for the commission, Lee Park, told the Lockport Journal it would be more accurate to assess the success of these casinos after the third year of operation. Senate Gaming Committee chair Sen. John Bonciac actually thinks Resorts World will help revenues. However, these current numbers are hard to completely ignore. In other words, don’t put on your dancing shoes and plan your trip to Grossinger’s just yet.

Pay No Attention To Those Sluggish NY Casinos Behind The Curtain

1 All three NY casinos running behind expectation
2 Cuomo, state both say nothing to worry about
3 New York competition not the only problem The numbers coming out of New York’s new upstate casino are causing alarm for many in the gambling industry. Those on the government side of things insist there is nothing to worry about though. All three NY casinos running behind expectation Now that July revenue numbers are out, there is no doubt numbers are trailing expectations. For example, Rivers Casino Schenectady’s earnings continue to hover between $10 and $11 million a month. At this pace, both Schenectady the city and Schenectady county will take in just over $2 million by year’s end. According to even the most conservative estimates, state officials expected roughly $2.75 million each for the city and county by year’s end. Rivers Casino is not the only property struggling to live up to the upstate casino hype either. Unlike Rivers, which opened in February, Tioga Downs has been up and running all year. Nonetheless, the property has only generated $13 million in tax revenue. Owner Jeff Gural told Reuters he estimated $32 million in tax payments by the end of the year. The other upstate property, del Lago, is over 40 percent off projections as well. Cuomo, state both say nothing to worry about Considering the fourth upstate property, Resorts World Catskills, is not even open, many in the New York casino industry are concerned. A word that keeps cropping up is “oversaturation.” In fact, Seneca Nation President Todd Gates mentioned it just last week. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to rescind Seneca’s exclusivity in northern New York, Gates pointed out a new casino in Niagara was destined to fail in the crowded market. Cuomo and company are not worried though. At least not outwardly. Speaking to the press earlier this month, Cuomo remained optimistic: Cuomo does have a point. Rivers only recently opened its adjoining hotel. Same for del Lago. Moreover, Tioga Downs is still building its hotel. Hotels can only make so much of a difference though. The forthcoming Resorts World property seems like it would only make the saturation situation worse. However, Senate Gaming Chariman Sen. John Bonciac takes a more paradoxical view: New York competition not the only problem Resorts World is not the only competition to worry about though. Massachusetts has massive resort casinos MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor on the way. Connecticut is moving forward on another tribal casino in East Windsor as well. The market is getting ruthless and crowded. For Cuomo, this is an interesting problem. In the past, he has hedged his stance on online poker in the state. He claimed he did not want to sabotage the success of the new upstate casinos. However, as the New Jersey market shows us, online gaming might be exactly what New York needs in order to differentiate itself from the increasingly stiff competition.

Don’t Expect A Resolution Between Seneca Nation And Cuomo Any Time Soon

1 Binding arbitration “no surprise” to Seneca Nation
2 Seneca and NY state fought four years last time It appears New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is finally ready to talk with Seneca Nation about their casino compact. After canceling multiple meetings throughout the summer, Cuomo and his staff drew up paperwork for binding arbitration with the tribal nation. Binding arbitration “no surprise” to Seneca Nation The Buffalo Times obtained the arbitration paperwork. In the filing, the state claimed it is obvious Seneca is in the wrong by stopping casino payments. This entire argument stems from wording in the compact which guarantees casino exclusivity in certain parts of upstate New York. Both parties agreed to extend the compact, but the language regarding the payments did not change. As a result, Seneca stopped payments earlier this year. Seneca Nation was not surprised the state sought arbitration. Cuomo made it clear he does not intend to bargain with tribal leadership when he publicly threatened to open a commercial casino in Seneca territory after months of silence on the subject. “After all, rather than take President Gates’ offer and willingness to meet in person, the governor repeatedly chose insults, attacks and threats through the media,’’ Seneca spokesman Philip Pantano said in a statement. Pantano is referring to Todd Gates, the president of Seneca Nation. Pantano went on to point out Cuomo’s legal team failed to identify binding language in the compact that suggests payments continued beyond 2016. Seneca and NY state fought four years last time The last time these two parties butted heads, it took four years to resolve. Seneca stopped payment in 2009 shortly after Cuomo signed a bill allowing for four new commercial casinos in upstate New York. To the tribes, this was a violation of their exclusivity agreement with the state. The two parties finally settled the matter in 2013. In the interim, local governments had to do without the more than $630 million in payments and fees the tribe withheld. Seneca eventually paid back $408 million of that money per the arbitration agreement. This time around, local governments might not be able to exhibit the same level of patience. Numerous local lawmakers like Niagara Mayor Paul Dyster voiced their hope Cuomo and Seneca could resolve things as quickly as possible. The possibility that is going to happen is quickly fading. Given history, arbitration is going to be a drawn-out process. Already there will likely be a fight over the location of the meetings. Cuomo’s team requested a site in New York City, even though the agreement stipulates the only site is Buffalo. There are plenty of other things to argue over too. Per the agreement, each side gets to pick one person to serve on the arbitration panel. Then, collectively, they agree upon a third person. The process of selecting the panel can take months. Moreover, even though the decision is binding, either party can appeal in federal court. If that happens, a resolution could be years away. Photo by a katz / Shutterstock.com