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What you need to know for 07/20/2017

Where Rivers Casino revenues stand after 3 months

Casino

Where Rivers Casino revenues stand after 3 months

Casino still appears poised to fall short of first-year projections
Where Rivers Casino revenues stand after 3 months
Rivers Casino & Resort is seen on its opening night on Feb. 8.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY — Rivers Casino & Resort closed the books this past week on its first quarter in business, a period that saw fluctuating revenue numbers and small tweaks at the business.

When its first quarter is taken as a whole, the casino still appears poised to fall short of first-year projections, based on the application submitted to the state Gaming Commission in 2014. However, the Schenectady gambling venue has had an impact on the nearby Saratoga Casino-Hotel’s business, and stacks up well with Seneca County’s del Lago Resort & Casino, which opened one week before Rivers.

Rivers Casino opened its doors on Feb. 8. In the quarter of a year since, it has taken in roughly $38.5 million in gaming revenue, according to Gaming Commission data.

That money is taxed by the state, and a portion is returned to the city and county of Schenectady as host communities. In the casino’s first three months, the city and county received $582,863 each.

In preparing its 2017 budget, Schenectady County budgeted to receive roughly $2.75 million in casino revenue this year. At its current pace, this calendar year’s revenues will likely fall just short of that.

Gaming revenue is 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 facility’s week-to-week performances ebbed and flowed. The casino enjoyed its best week in late March where it took in $3.6 million in total gaming revenue, followed by its worst week to date by the same metric, when it only brought in $2.2 million at the end of April.

Rivers’ direct geographic competition lies in Saratoga Springs at the Saratoga Casino-Hotel. While there doesn’t appear to be much correlation between the two facility’s weekly revenue to date, the Saratoga business has clearly taken a hit from its new competitor.

Prior to Rivers’ Feb. 8 opening, weekly net winnings at Saratoga Casino Hotel’s video slot machines consistently topped $3 million. In the time since, that number has only exceeded $3 million on two occasions, according to data from the Gaming Commission.

The Saratoga business offers more than 1,700 video slot machines, while the Schenectady gambling hall includes 1,150 slot machines, 67 table games and 15 poker tables.

Though the two are unlikely to be fighting for the same customers, Rivers opened just one week after the slightly larger del Lago Resort & Casino in the town of Tyre in Seneca County.

Del Lago cost roughly $440 million to build, or $110 million more than the Schenectady casino. The del Lago has close to 2,000 slot machines, has expanded from 77 to 85 table games and has 12 poker tables.

Based on weekly revenue numbers in the three months since each casino’s opening date, the Schenectady facility took in about $38.5 million, whereas the Tyre casino brought in approximately $39.3 million, according to gaming commission data.

Del Lago's surrounding host communities receive tax money at a different rate than those Rivers benefits, due to the legislation passed in 2013 allowing for upstate casino expansion.

The state taxes Rivers’ gaming revenue at a rate of 10 percent on table games and 45 percent on slot machines.

Of that 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 has received from Rivers Casino’s gaming revenue tax in February, March and April:

  • Education: $9.3 million
  • City of Schenectady: $582,863
  • Schenectady County: $582,863
  • Albany County: $400,719
  • Saratoga County: $289,281
  • Rensselaer County: $210,011
  • Washington County: $83,272
  • Fulton County: $73,149
  • Montgomery County: $66,152
  • Schoharie County: $43,139
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