And, so it begins: “Rivers, Del Lago casinos ask state for better terms: All four non-Indian casinos in state are missing their financial targets” (Schenectady Daily Gazette, by John Cropley, March 28, 2018):
Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady and Del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County are both making their cases with state lawmakers as the negotiations for the 2018-2019 state budget wind down to the final hours in Albany.
Details on their requests are elusive and, given the secretive nature of deal-making in the Capitol, quite possibly subject to change or outright rejection.
. . . Details were likewise hazy on the request by Rivers.
A lobbyist reportedly working for the casinos did not return a call seeking comment.
. . . However, Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, whose district contains Rivers Casino & Resort, said he has been given a rough idea of what Rivers is requesting, and said he endorses it.
Trying to save Schenectady’s Lady Liberty from pols and pirates is monopolizing my time again today, so I can’t go into detail about taxpayers getting the Bum’s Rush from Rush Street, but it probably makes more sense to see what, if anything, is done with their request. [see update below: Cuomo won’t play]
Here is what I said in a comment at the Gazette article:
On July 14, 2014, we asked at the “Stop the Schenectady Casino” weblog: “How big of a gamble are the casino cheerleaders willing to take?. . . Does the shiny future they predict for Schenectady include the sight of a failing casino project along Schenectady’s riverfront and the inevitable request for tax breaks and financial assistance that we can expect once gaming revenues shrink along the Mohawk? [see https://tinyurl.com/unpromisingCasino ]
When Rivers hired Rob Long as its new General Manager last December, we also noted that Long had guided the development and opening of Rush Street’s very first casino, Riverwalk in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Rush Street sold that Casino in 2012, just four years after it opened, and after failing in their request for a 60% reduction in their property tax assessment. Have Rush Street and Galesi Group drawn up their tax assessment challenges yet? Are they looking for a buyer? What will Mr. Steck do for them next?
update (4 PM, March 28, 2018): See “Cuomo says he is not interested in bailing out casinos” (State Of Politics. March 28, 2918). Article also has letter from State Senator Micheal Ranzenhofer, wanting help for existing casinos hurt by creating del Lago Casino, not for del Lago.
[8PM update] See “Cuomo: No bailout for Rivers, del Lago casinos” (Gazette, John Cropley, March 28, 2018).
- The Gazette Editorial Board posted a piece online this evening, titled “Editorial: No state financial deals for casinos” They got themselves into this mess; they can get themselves out”. It concludes:
There are many others in this state that aren’t getting what they need and that deserve more money from the state — many others in severe need through no fault of their own.
The casinos don’t fall into that category, and state lawmakers shouldn’t cave in to their appeals.
[March 29 update:] In the TU article “Casino seeks state help in marketing” (Sept. 29, 2018), Assemblyman Phil Steck is far from elegant defending Rivers Casino request for a 10% marketing allowance reduction in its gaming tax obligations to the State:
“It’s not saying, ‘State, come in and give us money’; it’s saying, ‘We believe we need to expand the market for our product, we need an allowance for marketing,’ and I think that’s a reasonable position for a business to take,” said Steck, a Democratic lawmaker from Colonie, of the request by the Schenectady casino, which is located on the former Alco site on Erie Boulevard.
“What they’re saying is, ‘If we spend 10 cents on marketing instead of giving you 100 cents on that dollar, we’re going to give you 90 cents,’ and that makes a lot of sense because if the total amount of revenue expands as a result of their marketing effort, the state’s going to make more money anyway and so will the city,” Steck said.
The article continues, making Steck sound rather conflicted:
“While Steck declined to call the request by Rivers a bailout, he conceded he is not a big fan of casinos, arguing they are a tax on the poor and middle class.”
Moreover, good luck figuring out what State. Senator Jim Tedisco is thinking:
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, said that since Cuomo “has seemingly closed the door to any tax adjustment,” he believes “a more plausible approach would be to ask for marketing assistance with also a good portion to go toward property tax reduction for Schenectady and surrounding communities.”
- update (March 30, 2018): The Times Union editorial board weighed in this morning with “Editorial: Say no to casino subsidies“, including a nifty illustration by Jeff Boyer [click on the thumbnail to the left]. It notes which of our representatives are for and against such handouts, and concludes:
All the signs were there years ago that the casino expectations and promises, especially upstate, were overblown. Now that those warnings are proving true, these enterprises seem to hope New York will behave like a classic loser who digs deeper into his pockets in the hope of a winning hand. There’s a gambling term state leaders would do well to learn: Pass.