You have probably seen or heard the newspaper and digital advertising blitz and all the media coverage the past couple of weeks for the 1st Anniversary of Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady. [click on image to the right for a sample] The Anniversary occurred on February 8, and is being celebrated at the Casino throughout February, with drawings for free cars, special entertainment, and more. Yesterday afternoon (Friday, Feb. 16), I checked the NYS Gaming Commission website to see if promotions for last week’s big Anniversary-cum-weekend have meant better gaming revenues for Rivers for the week ending February 11. After its disappointing shortfall from projected GRR in its first full year, the ability to create some Anniversary excitement might suggest whether our municipal leaders are correct about the coming of a better year.
The total Gross Gaming Revenue for the week ending last Sunday was $3,232,728. That makes Anniversary Week the 5th best week since the opening of Rivers Casino. Naturally, its owner-management, Rush Street Gaming, will say they are delighted with that figure, even after considering all the promotional and entertainment expenses. To me, the results seem rather “so-so” [“mezza mezza”] as Celebrations of a treasured community asset go. Underwhelming. [update (Feb. 23, 2018): GGR for the next Anniversary week, ending 02/18/2018, went down slightly, amounting to $3,221,484, making it Rivers’ 6th best week in Schenectady.]
To put a $3.2 million Anniversary Week into perspective:
- Averaging $3.2 million over all 52 weeks would yield $168 million total GGR for the year.
- $168 million is only 83% of the $201.9 million Rivers Casino projected as its base first-year estimate for GGR. (see “Casino bets are off the mark”, Albany Times Union, by Lauren Stanforth).
- $3.2 million is $600,000 less that the Casino’s best week ($3,882,454) which ended on July 16, 2017. [It would take 52 $3.88 million weeks to achieve the base year projection of approximately $202 million.]
Was It the Weather? Rush Street Gaming can’t blame weather for its Anniversary Week results. It was a normal-moderate Schenectady early February week, with one snowfall of 7 inches starting on February 7, but streets cleared by early on the 8th, and moderate weather through the weekend.
follow-up (Feb. 24, 2019): Here is a comparison of the 1st and 2nd Anniversary Weeks’ revenue at Rivers Casino.
If First Anniversary revenues seemed so-so, the 2nd Anniversary Week Revenue looks even more disappointing. Although Total GGR for the 2nd twelve months of operation was up about 10%, the Total GGR for the 2nd Anniversary Week was up only 4.8% over the 1st Anniversary Week. And, the advertising focus on Table Games resulted in a decrease in Table Games GRR of 8.3% and of Poker Table GRR of 5.4%. As, has happened for the full year, the increase in Total GRR was totally supplied by slots play, which went up 13% in the 2nd Anniversary Week.
Meanwhile, how did the new competition in the Catskills — Resorts World Catskill in Monticello, NY — do in its “soft” opening week? RWCatskills had an early, soft opening on February 8, to prepare for this weekend’s celebration of Chinese New Year, with its hopeful influx of high-rollers from the other Far East. According it its NYS Gaming Commission Financial Report: the total for its 4-day first week was $3,403,955. Over its first 53 weeks, Rivers Casino in Schenectady has had only 4 weeks better than RWCatskills’ first, four-day week.
- We will report back at the end of next week on RWCatskills’ second week, which will include three days of the Chinese New Year celebration. [see next bullet note]
- update re Chinese New Year (Feb. 23, 2018): Resorts World Catskills has announced that it will hold its Chinese New Year Celebration on September 25, 2018. Its press release describes aspects of the Celebration, and also its attempts to serve the Asian gaming market, as well as the multi-cultural communities in New York City (with many bus lines offering service to the Catskills Casino from NYC locations). More information is available on the RWCatskills Facebook Page.
. If you’d like to see why many observers say that the new Catskills Casino has a “wow factor”, including a 19-story hotel that serves as a palette that reflects its changing surroundings, that sets it apart from Schenectady’s casino, check out RecordOnline.com’s “Exclusive behind the scenes video tour of Resorts World Catskills” (Feb. 6, 2018, 8 min.).
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