Internet Gambling Left Out of New York State Budget Again While Casinos Struggle

Poker chips on a keyboard

Internet gambling has been left out of the New York state budget for the third year in a row.

Each of the last three years, the New York Senate has approved a bill to allow the licensing and regulation of online poker and gambling sites, known as iGaming. Each time the Assembly has decided not to vote on the proposal. As a result, online poker players in New York will have to continue travelling to New Jersey in order to play online legally.

Last year, Pennsylvania became the fourth US state to authorize and regulate iGaming, along with Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. Pennsylvania also started the application and acceptance process for prospective licensees on April 2. With online gambling legalized in four states, this is considered a turning point for the industry and online players who are hopeful that it will have a snowball affect on other states to follow.

iGaming supporters want 2018 to be the year that a bill is passed to make New York casinos more competitive, it remains to be seen whether that will happen.

Revenue down across the Empire State

Four non-tribal casinos in upstate New York are struggling financially; at least two have asked the state for a bailout.

Del Lago Resort Casino in Seneca County is reportedly in debt already after falling short on its revenue projections. During its first year of operation, it was expected to generate $263m (£188m). However, it fell short by around $100m (£71m). It is one of the casinos seeking a bailout.

State Senator John DeFrancisco is reported as saying: “This casino developer pushed to have a New York casino for years, including on the Syracuse state fairgrounds. So he knew exactly what he was getting into. If he’s losing money, that’s his problem to fix, not the taxpayers.”

Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady isn’t faring any better. A separate report said the New York casino was expected to bring in $222m (£159m) during its first year in business, but it fell short of that by $80m (£57m).

Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols is another venue that is struggling to reach its revenue projections. During the casino’s first year in operation, estimates pegged it as reaching $103m (£90m) in revenue. However, the end result saw it reaching $30m (£26m) less than expected.

Interestingly, Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, which is reported to have cost $1.2bn (£1bn) to build, is the newest of them all, having just opened in February. As the largest of the upstate casinos, it’s projected to have revenue far greater than that of Del Lago and Rivers. However, in its first few weeks of operation, it is following a similar path to the others.

No bailout from the governor

Any possibility or hope of a bailout have been dashed by the Governor of New York. Speaking to reporters late last month at the Capitol, Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejected the idea that the state would help struggling casinos, stating that “upstate gaming casinos are private concerns”.

“They bid, they made an investment and some of them will say they are not doing as well as they hoped or would have expected,” Cuomo added. “But they’re private concerns, and I don’t want to get into the business of bailing out private concerns.”

With upstate casinos struggling to meet their projections, could a bill that regulates online poker and gambling sites in New York make up for the lower revenue? It may not be happening now, but maybe in the future.