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What you need to know for 04/24/2017

Rivers Casino revenues up in March, still behind projections

Rivers Casino revenues up in March, still behind projections

Figures from first full month of operation reported
Rivers Casino revenues up in March, still behind projections
Rivers Casino on opening night, February 8, 2017
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

Rivers Casino & Resort and its beneficiary communities saw a modest increase in gaming revenue in March compared to February, with totals continuing to lag behind annual projections.

The casino hauled in roughly $13.6 million in gross gaming revenue, or money from table and slot games after payouts, for the month of March. Of that, the casino kept $9.4 million, while $4.2 million went to the state in gaming tax, according to data released Friday by the New York State Gaming Commission.

The total revenue was about $2.5 million higher than the month of February, though the state gaming tax, which gets redistributed to local communities, only climbed by about $200,000. Rivers was only in operation for 20 days in February after its Feb. 8 opening, while it was open for the full 31 days in March.

The gross gaming revenue from February actually increased by about $300,000 compared to when it was first reported a month ago. The change is due to audit adjustments found through a review by the Gaming Commission’s finance office, spokesman Lee Park said.

As host communities, the city of Schenectady and Schenectady County each receive 5 percent of the casino’s gaming tax. To date, each has received $406,902 in gaming money, according to the Gaming Commission.

If the current pace of just over $200,000 per month continues, the city and county would take in about $2.3 million for 2017, falling well short of Rush Street Gaming’s projections submitted in its 2014 application with the Gaming Commission.

That economic impact analysis, which included five-year projections for gaming revenues, estimated the low-end gaming revenue for the city and county would be about $3.3 million each for the city and county.

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.

Gaming revenues are expected to stabilize by 2019, according to the casino’s projections, when baseline projections call for the city and county of Schenectady to receive about $4 million in yearly gaming money.

The Gaming Commission data does not include revenue from food, drink or property tax, a portion of which benefits the host communities.

There are also factors that could increase revenue over the next several months, such as the opening of an adjacent 165-room hotel this summer, the completion of residential and office space on the rest of the Mohawk Harbor development or better weather drawing more people to the waterfront.

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, and was determined by the legislation passed in 2013 that legalized commercial casino expansion upstate.
 
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 money each municipality got from Rivers Casino’s gaming revenue tax in the month of March, with its total revenue to date in 2017 noted in parentheses.

Education: $3,341,336 ($6.5 million in 2017)

City of Schenectady: $208,834 ($406,902)

Schenectady County: $208,834 ($406,902)

Albany County: $143,573 ($279,746)

Saratoga County: $103,647 ($201,950)

Rensselaer County: $75,245 ($146,611)

Washington County: $29,836 ($58,133)

Fulton County: $26,209 ($51,066)

Montgomery County: $23,702 ($46,181)

Schoharie County: $15,456 ($30,116)

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