The Del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County, New York, opened its doors on Wednesday to hundreds of eager visitors. The Ithaca Journal reported that some had waited outside for five hours in near-freezing temperatures, while gridlocked traffic snaked back to the New York State Thruway.
They had come to get a glimpse of the second casino to open in Upstate New York, and the biggest so far. And they had come to get their gamble on.
“People are anxious to come in and they should be,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told the crowd assembled for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Today we are standing in a magnificent monument of how intelligent the decision to legalize casinos was, how it’s going to spur the economy. I really believe the best is yet to come. We are on our way.”
In 2013, voters in the Empire State approved Proposition One, amending the constitution to authorize the licensing of up to seven private commercial casinos. A year later, four licenses were made available in four separate regions.
3.2 Million Visitors Expected
Tioga Downs, located 30 miles west of Binghamton near the Pennsylvania border, was the first to open on December 2. According to state records, Tioga generated gross gaming revenues of about $9.5 million in its first seven weeks. But del Lago boasts twice the amount of gaming tables and slots and believes it has twice the earnings potential.
The $440 million casino features 2,000 slot machines, 77 table games, including blackjack, craps and roulette, and a poker room with 12 poker tables. A 205-room hotel, spa, and restaurant is scheduled to open this summer.
Developers Wilmorite and JNB Gaming anticipate 3.2 million visitors per year and expect to net $263 million, which will generate $68 million in taxes for the state.
Cuomo was eager to stress the economic benefits of the venture to the area. The opening of the casino has created 1,800 jobs, he said, plus there will be many more temporary construction jobs during the next phase of development. But not everyone is happy.
Del Lago has made no secret of the fact that as much as half of its revenues will be drawn from existing customers of racinos and Indian casinos in the area. During construction, the casino faced opposition not only from anti-gambling groups but also the Oneida Nation, which operates two properties within an 80-mile radius, the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona and the new Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango.
Talks are currently underway to devise a plan to protect the revenues of the nearby Finger Lakes racetrack.