Rivered on the flop: New York State’s big casino bet is having trouble cutting the deck

New York’s big commercial casino initiative in the Catskills has already been dealt a bad hand, as 4 of its newest casinos struggle to keep the slots on.

August 19, 2019

With the promise of hefty state tax revenues and job creation, NY leaders thought building a multi-billion dollar community of commercial casinos in the Catskills was a sure bet for the state’s economy. 

But being a Black Jack dealer at the new billion-dollar casino doesn’t mean sh*t if gamblers already have their preferred haunts. 

Now, because of underwhelming attendance and, for some, exorbitant loans in an already over-saturated market, all 4 of New York’s newest casinos are struggling to keep the slots on.

If you build it, they won’t come

Economists warned of market-crowding at the start of the 2018 casino boom. But, giddy to bring in revenue and create jobs, New York did it anyway. 

As a result, Resorts World Catskills, which is about 80 miles from the closest city, has doused its dough and lit it a blaze every quarter since it opened in 2018 (including a $36m loss in Q2 of 2019) — and now the owners are worried they may have to file for bankruptcy.

A day late, a billion bucks short

The New York gambling scene already had a lot of players at the table with multiple tribal casinos and more than a dozen race tracks that offer video slots. 

In other words, there was already a war going on out there, and building a gambling mecca more than 80 miles away didn’t give New York’s commercial casino initiative any better odds.

“None of this is a shock,” longtime gaming industry analyst, Harold L. Vogel told the NYT. “We know that there are so many states that have legalized different forms of gambling. And New York State was late to the game.”

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