Oneida Nation in New York Place a Third Gaming Location: Point Place Casino
The Oneida Nation announced this week it plans to build a third casino in its part of central New York state. The new casinos is planned for Madison County on the edges of Onondaga County, where Syracuse is located.
Assembly Racing Committee chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said the latest wave of casino licensing in late 2014 destabilized the gambling economy for the tribal and private gaming operators in Upstate New York.
Gary Pretlow on Market Saturation
Gary Pretlow said recently, “I think that part of the state is becoming overly saturated with gambling facilities, and this was actually started by the inclusion of the del Lago casino in Tyre. It’s caused a lot of issues in that area.”
Assemblyman Pretlow might be the gambling industry’s top advocate in the New York State Legislature, so Pretlow expressing concerns about market saturation has added weight.
Oneida Nation Casinos
The Oneida are taking a different route. They want to flood the market with their own gaming operations, so del Lago does not take all of the revenues for themselves. The new development for the Oneida Nation, which will be called Point Place Casino, is the latest move to counter the Del Lago private resort and casino which the New York Gaming Commission approved in 2014. The announcement means there will be 10 casinos between Albany and Batavia.
The Oneida Nation own the longstanding Turning Stone Resort Casino, a large gaming venue in Verona. In 2015, the tribe opened the Yellow Brick Road Casino near Syracuse. The tribe had complained that the 4 land-based casinos licensed in December 2014 would hurt their business at Turning Stone, so the Yellow Brick Road was a slots-box designed to retain some of its customer base.
Point Place Casino Plans
The Point Place Casino is expected to open in spring of 2018. When it does, the location should house 500 slot machines and an estimated 20 gaming tables. Blackjack and roulette are the likeliest table games to be offered, though baccarat and craps also might be offered. In many cases, a poker room with a handful of poker tables might be offered.
The announcement likely means that the already-licensed casinos will ask for their taxes to be lowered. That is what happened for Finger Lakes when the del Lago casino and resort was announced.
Vernon Downs and Batavia Downs Ask for Tax Relief
It is also what Vernon Downs near Turning Stone and Batavia Downs in Western New York. Both have asked for lower taxes to offset the growing competition for a limited customer base. Because the licensing officials included casinos closer to New York City and Pennsylvania has a substantial casino industry, the customer base is going to be limited and quite fractured.
One might think Batavia Downs would be far enough away to sustain its own gaming operation, but the owners of Western Regional Off-Track Betting (which owns Batavia Downs) are required to share profits with 15 nearby smaller communites and two larger cities, Buffalo and Rochester.
“Leveling the Playing Field”
Batavia Downs wants its taxes lowered on other gaming operations it has in the region. As a spokesman for Western Regional Off-Track Betting noted, “Having created new state casinos and a hyper sensitive business environment without leveling the playing field, potentially means job cuts here and additional loss for horseman through central and western New York.”
The same story has played out across the United States. State lawmakers, seeking tax revenues without raising direct taxes on their residents (and voters), have turned to casino gambling and lottery gambling. In places like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Mississippi, casinos were built in the 1980s and 1990s which were lucrative at first.
Regional Saturation of Casino Gambling
Nearby states saw the windfall and eventually decided to get in on the action. In the American northeast alone, the states of Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts have built or are building substantial land-based casino industries. The older gaming venues, faced with new competition and eroding customer bases, have edged into dangerous financial territory. For instance, both Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun in the Connecticut gaming niche have amassed debts over $2 billion.
In New Jersey, 5 of 12 casinos failed. While a couple of those casino operations might return, the truth is that America’s casino gambling industry is much more fractured than it was a generation ago. Where once Las Vegas and Atlantic City and a handful of other gaming destinations existed, those locations no longer have a virtual monopoly.
That appears to be what is happening in New York State, at least since 4 major new casinos were authorized. Or at least that is what gaming operators like the Oneida Nation would have people believe.