Gaming knowledgeable on del Lago on line casino’s cash woes: ‘They made a mistake’

Gaming expert on del Lago casino's money woes: 'They made a mistake'

TYRE, NY — If the 13-month-old del Lago Resort & On line casino cannot make sufficient cash to remain afloat, a nationwide gaming knowledgeable says, there is a answer for that.

“It is known as chapter,” mentioned Clyde Barrow, a Texas faculty professor who has studied and written studies on the Upstate New York on line casino business. “In enterprise, you are taking a danger, you make a mistake, the answer is commonly to declare chapter. They made a mistake.”

Del Lago, which opened in February 2017 at State Thruway Exit 41 close to Waterloo, appears to have misplaced its guess this week to win a monetary bailout from state taxpayers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday rejected the concept of giving tax breaks to the struggling on line casino, as did many state lawmakers and different officers. Cuomo and lawmakers are within the midst of negotiations for a brand new state funds for the fiscal 12 months that begins April 1.

Del Lago just isn’t the one new Upstate on line casino in hassle. Not one of the 4 non Indian nation-owned on line casino that opened prior to now 15 months is assembly the projections for earnings they gave the state once they bid for gaming licenses. (Rivers On line casino & Resort in Schenectady additionally reportedly sought tax breaks from the state).

However del Lago appears to be within the worst form. It fell about $100 million behind  its first-year estimate (a 44 p.c shortfall, greater than the opposite casinos). Its credit standing was downgraded to “adverse” by Moody’s Investor Service,  which additionally warned it might not be capable to pay its money owed.

If that is the case, Barrow mentioned, the state is sensible not become involved in decreasing taxes or offering different assist.

“As soon as the state will get concerned in subsidizing enterprise, everyone strains up on the trough,” he mentioned.

Del Lago’s issues had been “predictable,” mentioned Barrow, who warned in 2014 that the Seneca County on line casino would “cannibalize” the already crowded Upstate on line casino market.

Barrow’s predictions had been virtually spot on: Though del Lago estimated it will earn $263 million in gross gaming revenues in its first 12 months, Barrow’s estimate was $158.1 million. The precise determine: $147 million.

From its Feb. 1, 2017 opening by means of the center of March 2018, de Lago’s gross gaming revenues had been $158.5 million, in response to state Gaming Fee data. Throughout that point, it paid $47.2 million in gaming taxes to the state and to native governments in its area. The on line casino pays 37 p.c of its slot revenues and 10 p.c of it desk sport revenues in taxes.

Del Lago’s principal proprietor, Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot, was asking for a $14 million break on its taxes, in response to one state senator. Wilmot mentioned the on line casino is making sufficient cash now to “pay our payments,” however wanted a break from the state for the long run.

A del Lago spokesman, in the meantime, blamed the on line casino’s poor earnings forecast on a scenario it says it could not have predicted: Final 12 months, the Seneca Nation of Indians stopped making the funds it was sending to state and native governments on the three casinos it operates in western New York. The Senecas had been paying 25 p.c of their slot revenues in gaming taxes. The scenario has not been resolved.

Del Lago argues that a part of the Senecas’ tax financial savings, about $50 million, was used on advertising efforts to lure prospects away from the Finger Lakes on line casino.

Barrow is not shopping for it.

“They (del Lago) went into this with their eyes huge open,” he mentioned. “They knew there was competitors with the Indian casinos.”

The Cuomo administration endorsed the granting of recent on line casino licenses in 2014 to present non-public builders the possibility to compete with the Indian gaming operations. The 4 casinos made aggressive bids to find in areas not lined by present gaming compacts with the Indian nations.

On the time, there have been 5 Upstate Indian casinos, Since then, the Oneida Nation has added two smaller casinos within the area additionally served by its massive Turning Stone Resort On line casino.

Along with del Lago and Rivers, the opposite new “Vegas-style” casinos licensed in recent times are Tioga Downs, a former harness observe/slot venue west of Binghamton, and Resorts World Catskills, the biggest of the brand new gaming venues positioned close to Monticello. It opened final month.

Upstate can also be house to seven harness observe/slot venues often called “racinos.”

Barrow and different consultants have lengthy warned of a crowded and even saturated market. He additionally argues the state was improper to decide on Upstate as the situation for brand new casinos. The state, he mentioned, ought to have regarded to broaden within the far more densely populated New York Metropolis space.

“They (the brand new casinos) overestimated the revenues on this market,” Barrow mentioned. “Once more, that is their mistake.”

This state of affairs just isn’t unprecedented, Barrow mentioned. Different areas like northern   Mississippi, have seen casinos fail. In such instances, bankruptices could be a answer, particularly for a a on line casino, like del Lago, that has debt points.

“The shoppers will not discover if it closes and reopens below new house owners,” Barrow mentioned. “If somebody new takes over for perhaps eight or 10 cents on the greenback, then they’ll maybe function at a revenue.”

Don Cazentre writes about Upstate NY casinos for, and The Submit-Normal. Attain him at [email protected], or comply with him at, on Twitter or Fb.

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