New casinos will boost county revenue
WATKINS GLEN -- Some of the good news in next year's Schuyler County budget -- and for years after that -- is gaming revenues anticipated to be received from two new casinos.
The county already gets revenue from Seneca Nation casinos in Allegheny, Buffalo and Niagara, said Tim O'Hearn, county administrator. But it is also due to receive revenue from the new casino Tioga Downs in Nichols and del Lago in Tyre, he said.
Tioga Downs is expected to reopen this month, and del Lago is to open in February 2017.
Based on the two new casino applications, the state Division of Budget has estimates of future revenue, although it is risky to assume that the county will get maximum revenue due to the variables associated with the projections, he said.
"Opening dates and gross revenues are not 100 percent certain at this point, and we will have a much better picture of responsible projections once they have been in operation for a year," O'Hearn said. "That being said, I conservatively budgeted $160,000 in new revenue from Tioga and del Lago, with the assumption that del Lago won't open until February 2017."
Tioga Downs represents about 60 percent of estimated revenue, and the hope is that this number is exceeded, he said.
Schuyler County is now in its second year of receiving revenue from Seneca Nation, currently a little less than $50,000 per year, O'Hearn said.
Meanwhile, Yates County won't be affected by the new casinos, because it is not eligible for revenue from them, said Nonie Flynn, the county's treasurer and budget officer.
"We won't receive any revenue from the new casino because we're part of the Seneca Nation casinos. That's Allegany, Buffalo and Niagara," she said.
Starting in 2014, the county began seeing revenue from those three casinos, Flynn said, noting that gaming revenue for Yates in 2017 is projected to be $137,000. That is pretty consistent with what the county has received in the past, she said.
O'Hearn said the sharing of ongoing gaming revenues and one-time license fee revenue statewide is divided per capita in each region:
• 80 percent is retained by the state for aid to education and/or property tax relief.
• 10 percent goes to the host communities, split evenly between the county and the municipality where the facility is located.
• 10 percent is shared with remaining counties in the region on a per-capita basis.
A long dispute between the state and Seneca Nation regarding the siting of new casinos was ultimately settled, O'Hearn said. As part of that, the area of the Seneca Nation covered by the compact with the state and federal government is all the land in the state west of state Route 14, O'Hearn said.
The portion of the county west of Route 14 covers about 45 percent of the county's population, he said.
Schuyler County will receive casino revenue for del Lago and Tioga for the portion of the county that is east of state Route 14, which is outside of the compact area, he said.
Schuyler has 2.7 percent of the regional population and that was 9,989 in 2010. Full annual revenue from Tioga Downs and del Lago is $256,760; nine months of gaming operations is $192,570; six months of gaming operations is $128,380, O'Hearn said.
"When considering that Schuyler's numbers are based on a per-capita distribution of just 2.7 percent, it is clear that this will be a significant source of revenue for eligible local governments and schools in New York state," O'Hearn said.
The state Gaming Commission granted Tioga Downs a Class III commercial gaming license in August 2016, allowing it to complete its transformation into a full-scale casino.
Video lottery terminals are being replaced with slot machines, and the facility is adding blackjack, roulette, craps, a poker room and other casino card games that would be permitted by the gaming commission.
When completed, the del Lago Resort and Casino will include a 205-room hotel, spa and casino with 2,000 slot machines and 85 gaming tables, including 10 poker tables. It will also include a banquet facility, several restaurants, lounges, a 2,500-person entertainment center and other amenities.