Rivers Casino & Resort in Upstate New York Generates $138.4 Million, but Misses Forecasts

Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, Upstate New York welcomed 1.5 million casino patrons during its first year of operation, owners said on Monday. Rivers was the second commercial casino to open doors within New York’s borders as part of the state’s gaming expansion push.

The property had its grand opening on February 8, 2017 and is celebrating its first year of operation this week. In a special report compiled to mark the casino resort’s first anniversary, owners revealed that around 11,000 jackpots worth a total of $26 million were handed during the first year, and over 350 events of different nature took place on site.

In addition, Rivers contributed more than $41 million in taxes to the state, its first anniversary report pointed out. The hotel and casino resort also became a major employer for the region, as it created over 1,100 jobs after opening doors last year.

New York State lawmakers approved legislation that legalized commercial casino gambling in a certain portion of the state back in 2013. A year later, a specially appointed Gaming Facility Location Board recommended the construction of three commercial casinos in three Upstate New York locations. In 2015, the same Board recommended the addition of a fourth commercial gambling venue in the same region. That fourth recommended casino – Tioga Downs Casino – was the first to open doors in late 2016.

Rivers and del Lago Resort and Casino in Waterloo followed suit in February 2017. The fourth and largest Las Vegas-style gambling venue – Resorts World Catskills – is slated to have its ribbon cut this Thursday.

While Rivers has been touted as major employer and major tax contributor, the casino actually missed some of the projections for its first year of operation.

What Did Rivers Fail to Accomplish?

In the first place, the hotel and casino resort missed revenue prognoses, and missed these by quite a lot. The casino generated gross gaming revenue of $138.4 million in the period between February 8, 2017 and January 28, 2018. However, Rivers’ first-year casino revenue was expected to fall in the $181 million-$222 million range.

The hotel and casino resort thus fell short of tax revenue forecasts, contributing around $41.6 million. It was expected to generate between $66.4 million and $81.3 million in tax revenue to the state.

In addition, the casino missed visitors projections. As mentioned above, Rivers’ gaming floor had 1.5 million visitors during its first year of operation, while analysts projected between 2.5 million and 3 million patrons.

While owners of the venue and local officials have pointed out that it is still growing and that it will gradually improve its performance until it meets expectations, gambling experts have voiced concerns that the market in Upstate New York could be oversaturated and this could further impact Rivers’ performance in future.

It is yet to be seen how the upcoming opening of Resorts World Catskills will change the casino landscape in the region, but analysts are not particularly optimistic that further expansion is the best possible move.

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