Revenues sluggish at luxury casino
Posted June 12, 2018 6:58 a.m. EDT
THOMPSON, N.Y. _ Resorts World Catskills has been held up as the economic savior for a beleaguered region, the most luxurious state-licensed casino yet, catering to the wealthy of New York City.
But its incoming revenue since its February "soft-opening" has been lower than what other state casinos made out of the gate _ even taking in $17 million less this spring than del Lago casino, the Finger Lakes facility that has already floated the idea of state tax relief for itself in the face of lackluster business.
Resorts World, built in Sullivan County on the former grounds of the Concord Hotel, had an average of $101 win per slot since February _ compared to $155 at del Lago, $204 at Tioga Downs and $256 at Rivers Casino. (The win per slot is the amount left in a slot machine after winnings are paid out, and the industry standard for comparing casinos of all sizes.)
Clyde Barrow, an expert on the casino industry and chairman of the political science department at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, said a $100 win per slot is considered very low in the industry. "Anything below $200 is not desirable," Barrow said Monday.
But the $1.2 billion Resorts World, and various state leaders, say there is nothing to fear in the numbers _ that revenue will increase as Resorts World adds its other attractions such as a family indoor water park and golf course, both slated to open next year.
Charles Degliomini, executive vice president for Resorts World Catskill, wrote in an email to the Times Union that the revenue picture was also impacted by the gaming floor opening before many of the suites and restaurants were finished.
"It will take a much longer time period to accurately assess our business," Degliomini wrote. "In other words, we have four pistons in our engine and currently only have one (the resort casino) operating."
But the gaming forecast for New York has already been troubled.
The year-end revenue totals for the state's three other resort-style casinos, which started opening in December 2016, showed they were just under $200 million off from their own projections when they applied for the state's first licenses in 2014.
And, there are signs gaming revenue is simply being redistributed by drawing money away from nearby racinos _ raceways that have video lottery terminals. For example, Saratoga Casino Hotel revenue was down 18 percent this past year after Rivers' opening in Schenectady.
A January report from Moody's Investment Analysis also warned about gambling saturation in New York, and that the opening of Resorts World Catskills would lead to further cannibalization between the four licensed casinos and racinos.
However, State Sen. Republican John Bonacic, an Orange County resident who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, noted the importance of the economic development Resorts World brings, saying in a written statement that the casino "has already provided much needed job creation in a region of the state that has for years struggled with unemployment."
Resorts World said it has created 1,500 jobs, and will get to the 2,400 jobs it promised in its license application once all its attractions are open.
State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, a Democrat from Mount Vernon and chairman of the Assembly's Committee on Racing and Wagering, said one problem Resorts World has is that there is no disposable income to draw from locally. But Pretlow said he expects that will slowly change as the casino adds attractions for travelers, and brings jobs and other related industries into the Catskills.
"Right now they're dependent totally on people from New York City and Rockland County," Pretlow said, "and that takes time."
FAST FACTS: Average casino wins per slot* since February
Del Lago: $155
Resorts World Catskills: $101
Tioga Downs: $204
*Wins per slot indicates how much money is left in a slot machine after winnings are handed out each day. It is the most equitable way to compare casinos that are of varying sizes.