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Financially troubled del Lago Casino may seek state bailout: Report

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Financially troubled del Lago Casino may seek state bailout: Report

TYRE, NY -- The 13-month-old del Lago Resort & Casino in the Finger Lakes, which is struggling to earn the money it forecast, now may look to New York taxpayers for a bailout.

It's another sign of trouble for the crowded Upstate casino market, which some believe is already oversaturated.

Del Lago is one of four new casinos to open in Upstate New York in the past 15 months. All are failing to earn as much revenue as they promised in their state license applications, but del Lago may be in the worst shape. Its credit rating has also been downgraded, with investor service Moody's giving it a negative outlook and warning that it may not be able to pay its debts.

"I think we need some help at this point, and what the future holds, time will tell," del Lago's principal owner, Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot, told a Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter in Albany today.

Wilmot said the situation isn't dire, the Democrat & Chronicle reported. "We're paying the bills," he said. "Long term, it isn't going to be sustainable without some help."

The newspaper reported that Wilmot, who was visiting the state Capitol as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers work on a new budget, did not specify what the "help" might be.

Other gambling venues in the state, such as the Vernon Downs racino in Oneida County and Finger Lakes Racetrack near Rochester, have won concessions on taxes from the state due to gaming competition.

Del Lago pays a 37 percent tax on its slot machine earnings and 10 percent on table game earnings. The money goes to state education/property tax relief, and some goes to its host town (Tyre) and county (Seneca).

In a statement released this afternoon, a public relations manager for del Lago referenced what it called the "unfair" competition posed by the three Seneca Nation-owned casinos operating in western New York. The Senecas stopped making payments to the state and local government last year, arguing that requirement had expired.

"As it starts its second year, del Lago faces a blatantly unfair competitive disadvantage," said Steven A. Greenberg of Greenberg Public Relations. "When del Lago sought and won its casino license, it was done based on circumstances that have now significantly changed. The Seneca Nation stopped making payments to both New York State and to the local governments last year. What are they doing with that newfound windfall? Using more than $50 million to provide additional promotions and incentives - particularly in the Rochester area - to lure customers from del Lago. And it's working. Del Lago can compete on an even playing field but not one that's tipped so heavily toward the Senecas. All del Lago is looking for is a fair, competitive marketplace. Unfortunately, the Senecas have upset that applecart and now del Lago is seeking to level the playing field. Our first year has proven how valuable del Lago is to the Finger Lakes region. We want to continue to expand and bring even more tourism and economic development to Seneca County and the surrounding counties."

The Finger Lakes Times, meanwhile, reported today that Jeff Babinski, who has been de Lago's general manager since it opened, is leaving that job at the end of this month.

Del Lago had predicted earnings of $250 million by the end of its first year. It only reached about $150 million. That's a bigger shortfall than those suffered by Tioga Downs, which opened in the Southern Tier in December 2016, and Rivers Casino & Resort, which opened in Schenectady in February 2017, the same month as de Lago. The fourth new casino, Resorts World Catskills near Monticello, is also falling short in its first months of operation.

The $440 million del Lago resort has 1,956 slot machines and 99 gaming tables, a 205-room hotel and spa, a 2,400-seat event center called The Vine and several dining options, including Portico, a high-end steakhouse developed with celebrity chef Fabio Viviani.

In addition to the four new "Vegas-style" casinos, Upstate New York is home to seven harness track/slot venues known as racinos, plus seven casinos operated by the Seneca, Oneida and Mohawk Indian nations.

Don Cazentre writes about Upstate NY casinos for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or follow him at NYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.

Read more http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNF1bTUQter4szTLMvogpoWLAZ2KRw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52779846566691&ei=RBO7WuKmPMiFhQH4o63QBg&url=http://www.newyorkupstate.com/casinos/2018/03/financially_troubled_del_lago_casino_may_seek_state_bail_out_report.html

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