Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady took in $10.8 million in gaming revenue after payouts in February, amounting to $3.8 million in state gaming tax, newly released data shows.
Of that tax money, the city of Schenectady and Schenectady county received $191,991 each, or 5 percent, for serving as host communities. The casino opened Feb. 8, meaning that it only had 20 days of operation and a soft opening event accounted for in the monthly report.
Even so, if the city and county each received $275,000 per month in gaming revenue for the next 10 months, it would total about $2.9 million in gaming revenue each for all of 2017, falling short of the casino’s own initial projections.
In its 2014 application to the Gaming Commission, Rush Street Gaming, which operates Rivers, submitted an economic impact analysis, which included five-year projections for gaming revenues.
The study’s base projection estimated that Schenectady County and the city of Schenectady would receive $7.39 million in gaming revenue in 2017, or about $3.7 million each.
The casino’s low-end estimates projected the city and county would each receive about $3.3 million in gaming revenue in 2017.
Based on its first month’s performance, the casino’s first year gaming revenues will fall short of both of those estimates.
In preparing its 2017 budget, Schenectady County used the low-end revenue estimate, $3.3 million, and pro-rated it to a March opening. That would leave the county expecting about $2.75 million in casino revenue this year.
The casino's projections call for revenues to stabilize by about 2019, when middle of the road estimates show that the city and county of Schenectady would receive about $4 million in yearly gaming money.
There are a few factors still at play that could influence casino revenues the rest of the year. An adjacent 165-room hotel is scheduled to open in July, and the surrounding projects on the Mohawk Harbor development, including a luxury apartment complex and office and retail space, are expected to be completed this summer as well, drawing more people to the site.
In addition, the gaming commission report does not account for money generated by food and beverage sales or property tax paid toward local municipalities.
"We are pleased to have seen such an enthusiastic reception for the opening of Rivers Casino & Resort over the past days, and to have generated millions in revenues for the state, city and region,” a casino spokesperson said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to generate a positive economic impact."
Of the $10.8 million in February gaming revenue, the state kept $3.8 million, with the operator’s commission totaling close to $7 million.
The state taxes gaming revenue at Rivers Casino & Resort at a rate of 45 percent on slots and 10 percent on table games. The 45 percent tax rate on slots is the highest of any of the four new casinos in upstate New York.
Of that tax money, 80 percent is redistributed to public schools across New York, based on the state’s education formula.
Another 10 percent is split evenly between the city of Schenectady and Schenectady County, with each receiving 5 percent of the tax revenue as host communities.
The remaining 10 percent is divided up among Albany, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schoharie and Washington counties, based on population. For example, Albany receives the highest percentage, then Saratoga County, and so on.
Here’s a look at how much each municipality made from Rivers’ February haul:
State-wide education: $3,071,853
City of Schenectady: $191,991
Schenectady County: $191,991
Albany County: $131,994
Saratoga County: $95,287
Rensselaer County: $69,176
Washington County: $27,429
Fulton County: $24,095
Montgomery County: $21,790
Schoharie County: $14,210