Just Over a Year After Opening, del Lago Casino is Asking for a Bailout; Lawmakers and Gov. Say "No"

Mar 28, 2018

Hundreds line up for the "grand opening" of del Lago Feb. 1, 2017.
Credit governor cuomo's flickr page

Two state lawmakers from Central New York are outraged by reports that del Lago Casino just off the thruway in Seneca County is asking the state for a bail out. The $425 million facility is falling short of projected revenue just 15 months after opening.

Utica-area Senator Joe Griffo sits on the senate’s racing, gaming, and wagering committee. He says he was concerned about four years ago when Governor Cuomo’s gaming commission began the process of siting the casinos.

"When the voters of the state of New York accepted gaming to become legal throughout the state, the governor initially indicated that this would generate income and it would be an economic benefit to communities. Now we are seeing the tax payer being asked to help bail out del Lago, this is really poor planning and poor policy." 

Griffo says the commission failed to evaluate the economic impact of rapidly building and opening so many casinos at once. He says there were negative economic indicators of gambling in new York, its neighbors, and even the southwest.

Gov. Cuomo is joined by numerous officials to cut the ribbon on the casino Feb. 1, 2017. Developer Thomas Wilmot is in blue suit to the right of Cuomo.
Credit governor cuomo's flickr page

"From the very beginning I could see potential saturation and also there was no deliberative method or manner put in place to ascertain whether or not this would work." 

Assembly member Gary Finch represents the district just to the east of del Lago.

"We had too many casinos in New York state, far too many, they all knew it and this is what's happened. I think they knew there needed to be a bailout before they even put the first shovel in the ground," Finch said.  "They knew and went ahead with this anyway with the support of the state of New York, there's not a doubt about it. Where's the business plan for an enterprise of this magnitude, I'm sure it spelled something out quite different than where they arrived at now."

Finch says the del Lago is yet another example of what’s wrong with what he calls the state’s phony economic development strategy. He wants the attorney general to investigate. Meanwhile, Finch suspects a bailout might be slipped into the budget at the last minute after casino executives paid a visit this week to Albany.  Late Wednesday,Governor Cuomo told reporters there will be no bail out of any of the four upstate casinos, calling them "private concerns."