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New York Casinos Fall $230 Million Shy Of Winnings Projection For Year One

Online Gaming Might Help Enhance Revenues

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There’s an online poker bill making its way through the New York Legislature this year, but could the performance of the brick-and-mortars in the state help move it past the finish line?

New York’s new commercial casinos, the first of which opened a little over a year ago, aren’t performing as well as they thought they would. According to a report from USA Today, the three Empire State casinos that all opened about 12 months ago collectively fell about $230 million short of their initial revenue projections for year no. 1. All saw large discrepancies.

The Rivers Casino & Resort, del Lago Resort & Casino and Tioga Downs brought in a combined $359 million, which reportedly was about 40 percent less than initially projected. New York found that its residents were spending $1 billion gambling in nearby states each year, so it awarded the commercial licenses in 2014 to keep some of the money within its borders. In addition to the commercial casinos, the state has a handful of racinos and 11 tribal casinos.

The three upstate casinos were also authorized to provide an economic boost to struggling local economies. The casinos say they have done just that, but their gaming revenues could provide extra motivation for the state to legalize online gaming.

The lackluster performance caught the attention of lawmakers. Republican State Senator John Bonacic, sponsor of a bill in that chamber, commented on the situation at a hearing last month.

“There are many media reports that the casinos aren’t meeting their revenue expectations,” Bonacic said. “This would be another tool in their toolbox to enhance revenues, if we allowed them to do it. This will be the third time that the Senate has passed this bill, and I know Assemblyman [Gary] Pretlow, who chairs the Racing and Wagering [Committee] in the Assembly, is supportive of the bill. I know he will continue to use his best efforts to move it.”

Unlike the Senate, the Assembly has never voted on an online poker bill.

In addition to the aforementioned three brick-and-mortars, Resort World Catskills, the largest casino in the state, opened earlier this month. That’s also a positive development for the online poker debate because there was talk of waiting until all the new casinos were open before legalizing poker over the internet. Furthermore, neighboring Pennsylvania, the nation’s no. 2 commercial gambling market, legalized online casinos in October.