A new report shows the opening of three new casinos in Upstate New York last year has sharply increased the state's gaming revenue, but it hasn't necessarily meant great things for the already existing businesses in the gambling industry. Matt Hunter has more on the impact at the Saratoga Casino Hotel.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In the nearly 12 months since three full-scale casinos, including Schenectady's Rivers Casino, began taking bets in Upstate New York, the state's gaming revenues have soared by more than 30 percent. A new report finds that growth has been at the expense of other already existing gambling businesses like video lottery terminal casinos.
"The initial thought when these [casinos] were being planned was that our casino was going to lose about 40 percent of its business," said Todd Garofano, president of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau.
Entitled "Cannibalization of gaming revenue continues in the Northeast," the Moody's Investors Service report was released earlier this week. The data it collected from the NYS Gaming Commission shows gaming revenue at Saratoga Casino Hotel, which is geographically the closest competitor of Rivers’, dropped far below the anticipated 40 percent but still significantly at 14 percent.
"While gambling revenues may be down in the casino, I think the overall picture here in Saratoga is very good,” Garofano said.
The reason Garofano says it's not all gloom and doom is the addition of a hotel and Morton's The Steakhouse has allowed the company to offset some of the losses in gaming revenue. Unlike Rivers, which features traditional table and card games, Saratoga Casino Hotel is only authorized to offer video slot machines and card games. Company executives declined to comment for this story.
"They are able to offer more meetings and events, special events, things that take advantage of what they have around them to minimize that impact," Garofano said.
Based on annual hotel booking statistics, Garofano says the Saratoga region has been able to attract many of the out-of-town guests traveling to gamble at Rivers.
"I think we were up 5 percent on overall demand, about 21,000 more room nights than the year before,” he said. “So we are seeing more business, which is important."
The Moody's report also predicts the trend will continue with a new Resorts World Casino scheduled to open next month in the Catskills. With increasingly diverse offerings, Garofano believes Saratoga Casino Hotel and the rest of the Spa City’s hospitality industry are well positioned to remain strong.
"Hopefully it develops that loyal following and increases your repeat business that we’ll all enjoy," Garofano said.