Online Gambling Left Out of New York Budget While Casinos Struggle

Online gambling was not included in the state budget of New York despite a favorable Senate vote just a couple of months ago, and two of the four new Empire State casinos have requested financial assistance due to a shortfall in revenue, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to bail them out.

That’s three years in a row that the New York Senate approved online poker and gambling, but the Assembly chose to not even vote on the proposal. As a result, online poker players will have to continue trekking across the border into New Jersey to play at regulated poker sites.

Speaking of New Jersey, online gambling has certainly boosted revenue for  casinos in the Garden State. But lawmakers in New York are apparently not paying attention to their neighbors, as New York’s new commercial casinos are falling way short of projected revenue totals.

Revenue Down Across the Board

The four new non-tribal casinos in upstate New York are reportedly in a financial bind that has resulted in at least two of them requesting some type of bailout. Del Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre and Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady are the two that asked for but did not receive help.

Del Lago projected $263 million in revenue in its first year but missed that total by some $100 million. The news wasn’t any better for Rivers Casino where estimates were pegged at $222 million in revenue for year one, but a dose of reality saw that mark fall short by around $80 million.

Tioga Downs Racino in Nichols, which added slots and table games to its offerings in December 2016, was projected to make $103 million in gambling revenue during its first year as a full commercial casino. The balance sheet told a different story at $30 million less than expected.

Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, at a cost of $1.2 billion to construct, opened just last month. The biggest of the new upstate casinos, Resorts World revenue is expected to dwarf that of Del Lago and Rivers. However, the first five weeks of operation find the newest casino on a similar unremarkable pace as that of the others.

No Help From Governor

When asked by USA Today reporters about a possible bailout, Gov. Cuomo had this to say:

The upstate gaming casinos are private concerns. They bid, they made an investment and some of them will say they’re 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.

The revenue deficits have resulted in resignations of general managers of two of the casinos. The Rivers’ GM said good-bye in November while the general manager at Del Lago will depart after this week.

Could the lack of revenue eventually lead to the approval of regulated online poker and gambling in New York to make up for the shortfall? It didn’t happen for the March 31 budget deadline, but perhaps in the near future.