Rivers has best month ever but loses top spot among N.Y. casinos

Schenectady casino grosses $14.4 million but new Catskills gambling destination tops it with $15 million
A roulette wheel at Rivers Casino in Schenectady is pictured.
A roulette wheel at Rivers Casino in Schenectady is pictured.

SCHENECTADY — August was the best revenue month ever for Rivers Casino & Resort, and the last week of August the best single revenue week ever.

The Schenectady waterfront casino grossed $14.4 million in revenue on $132.7 million gambled. The previous highest gross was $13.9 million in March 2018.

The casino kept 67 percent of the August gross, or $9.61 million, and paid the other $3.85 million as taxes, of which $240,590 went to the city of Schenectady. Both tax numbers are the highest ever in the 19-month history of the casino.

The monthly numbers do not, by themselves, indicate a trend. Annual or year-to-date figures are better for drawing such conclusions.

So far in 2018, Rivers is averaging $12.94 million a month in gross gaming revenue and $219,131 a month in tax payments to Schenectady. 

For 2017, it averaged $11.66 million per month in gross gaming revenue and sent an average of $189,136 in taxes to Schenectady.

Weekly revenue figures are even more susceptible than monthly revenues to being skewed by one-time events and anomalies.

From Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, Rivers reported $4,021,942 in gross gaming revenue, its most ever. 

But that was likely due to some high rollers or big losers on the table games (craps, roulette and card games other than poker). Slot machines provide about two thirds of Rivers’ revenue, but they are relatively stable. Table game revenue rises and falls radically from week to week, depending on the luck or skill of players and the amount they bet. 

For the last week in August 2018, table game revenue surged to $1.7 million, more than double Rivers’ average weekly total.

Rivers’ second-best weekly revenue total ever ($3,882,454 in July 2017), was bumped up by an even bigger one-time surge in table game revenue: $2.04 million.

Rivers’ management presumably is doing something to cause or encourage the year-over-year revenue growth, but it’s hard to tell exactly what. The company did not comment on its finances and strategy when its numbers were lagging behind projections in 2017 and has not commented as the numbers have been improving in 2018.

A spokeswoman said via email Friday:

“We are very thankful for the community support and our loyal guests and continue to focus on providing a great experience for them every time they walk through the doors.”

The other Capital Region gambling facility, Saratoga Casino-Hotel, had its best month of the year so far in August. 

But August is always the best month of the year for the video gaming facility: That’s the month when Saratoga Springs’ population swells for the thoroughbred horse racing season.

Otherwise, Saratoga Casino-Hotel’s revenue is suffering in the wake of the new competitor opening in Schenectady in February 2017, with a 14.7 percent drop in money gambled in calendar year 2017 vs. 2016.

Meanwhile, Rivers Casino & Resort was surpassed in August as the revenue leader among New York state’s four non-Indian casinos.

Resorts World Catskills reported $14.99 million in August gross gaming revenue. Following it were Rivers ($14.41 million), del Lago ($13.4 million) and Tioga Downs ($6.73 million). The monthly total was the best yet for Resorts World and the second-best ever for del Lago.

On Aug. 24, eastern New York casinos gained a new competitor in western Massachusetts: MGM Springfield, whose management has said they plan to market it in the Capital Region.

Massachusetts gambling regulators are requiring casinos there to report their financials on a monthly basis, so no figures are available yet for MGM Springfield’s performance.

New York regulators publish casino financial data on a weekly and monthly basis.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

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