Following reports that the del Lago Casino & Resort in Seneca County is struggling with revenue and is seeking a bailout from the state, Sen. Joseph Griffo, a member of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, Sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State Division of Budget Director Robert Mujica.
In the letter, Griffo said he doesn't believe a bailout is appropriate use of taxpayer money.
Rochester NBC affiliate WHEC is reporting that the del Lago Resort & Casino said in a statement that the Seneca Nation has had an unfair advantage ever since they stopped making payments to state and local governments.
The article reports that casino spokesman Steven Greenberg said that even since the Seneca Nation stopped making payments to New York State and local governments, it has been using more than $50 million to create additional promotions and incentives to lure customers from del Lago.
According to Greenberg, this has greatly changed the circumstances compared to when del Lago first sought and won its casino license, and they are simply looking for a "fair, competitive marketplace."
Senator Griffo said he had concerns with the rapid pace of gaming facilities throughout the state and had urged the state Gaming Commission to reconsider some of the decisions. He said there are more pressing needs in areas such as health care, education and infrastructure. He said the state should not devote public revenues to a private casino corporation.
Sen. Griffo’s full letter is below:
March 27, 2018
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
State of New York
Dear Gov. Cuomo,
The purpose of this letter is to outline concerns that I have following reports that the del Lago Casino & Resort in Seneca County is struggling with revenue and is seeking a bailout from New York State.
From the very beginning, I have had concerns with the site selection process and the rapid pace and the proliferation of gaming facilities throughout the state and previously urged the New York State Gaming Commission to reconsider some of the decisions made by the Gaming Facility Location Board that I believed would be economically detrimental to Upstate New York.
The news that del Lago is struggling with revenue is disappointing, concerning and unsettling. When gaming expansion began, New Yorkers were told by the Governor that the new casinos would support tourism, bring more jobs and more revenue to support schools and lower taxes. It now appears that that is not the case and this is another illustration of bad planning, bad siting and bad decision making.
Del Lago is not generating as much revenue as promised and the casino is seeking a bailout with taxpayer money after not meeting its revenue projection in the casino’s first year. Del Lago has been a recipient of a number of local tax breaks and economic incentives. It is paying approximately $43 million in “gaming taxes” annually, already far below the original projections of the payments they were going to make to State Education Aid and their surrounding localities. Now, del Lago wants a tax break somewhere around $14 million, which is almost a full one-third of the already lower-than-expected amount they are currently paying in taxes to the state and localities.
I do not believe that bailing out this casino with people’s hard-earned tax dollars is the appropriate way to go about addressing this issue, especially given the fact that there are other gaming facilities with video lottery terminals who continue to struggle as a result of casino decisions and have not received the same level of support now being requested.
Our state has more pressing needs in areas such as health care, education and infrastructure. It would be inappropriate to devote public revenues to a private casino corporation when the people of New York were promised after the casino referendum that these casinos would be generating revenue for their local economies and would become economic engines themselves.
I look forward to a response from you.
Joseph A. Griffo
State Senate, 47th District