The Ontario County track, which was unsuccessful in its suit to block del Lago, has been saying it needs a tax rate similar to del Lagos’ in order to stay in business, and its efforts have finally paid off. The new tax rate, which was part of the state budget approved last week by lawmakers, will take effect next year when the casino expects to open, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. The change was supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who in his January 13 proposed budget said that the deal in 2013 to build four upstate New York casinos included a provision which allows the same percentage of revenue to be paid to the state by existing racinos as the new facilities within the same region.
However, the same consideration wasn’t afforded to Finger Lakes, which is located in western New York, in the Seneca Indian Nation’s gambling exclusivity zone. The track, however, also borders the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes zone, where both the del Lago Casino and the Tioga Downs casino in the Southern Tier are being built. So now when the casino opens, the new tax structure will allow Finger Lake’s payments to the state to decrease by 10 percent.
Currently, 69 percent of Finger Lakes’ net win is paid to the state. That’s the amount of money that remains in its video-lottery-terminals after winners have been paid. The horse industry’s thoroughbred racing also receives 10 percent. The racino retains 21 percent, but will increase to 31 percent with the new tax structure. del Lago is slated to pay 10 percent on table games and 37 percent on slots. The state bars Finger Lakes from installing table games and owns the video-lottery-terminals at the racinos. Private casinos would have to purchase them.
One of the three casinos the state awarded casino licenses to in December, del Lago is slated to open early next year. It is owned by Rochester-area developer Thomas Wilmot. Del Lago still faces lawsuits from the Oneida Nation, owner of the nearby Turning Stone Resort Casino and Yellow Brick Road casino near Syracuse. Finger Lakes and the Oneida have raised concerns regarding the saturation of the market with another casino, saying that del Lago will vulture their customer base. Del Lago, however, says that the new casino will bring visitors to the region and add jobs.