There's a heated competition for casino customers in upstate New York but it's not necessarily a fair one. The Lago Resort & Casino, which is a new casino slated to open up in just over a year, is expected to have some clear-cut advantages over its regional competitors. That has a number of people at swords' point over the uneven playing field.
According to a report filed by Moody's Investment Services on Friday, the Lago Resort & Casino will be able to offer table games and have a better tax rate than its regional competitors. Both will be significant advantages in a very aggressive market.
Lago will be able to offer table games to customers whereas the main competition in the neighborhood - the Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes racetracks - will not. Currently, table games are banned at the racetracks. The $425 million resort will also get a friendly tax rate from the state, which has the nearby Turning Stone Casino - and many others - up in arms.
According to Moody's report, Lago will pay a 37 percent tax rate on all of its revenues collected from slot machines as well as 10 percent on table game revenue. However, Finger Lakes pays a tax rate of about 70 percent, which really puts them at a disadvantage. They've filed for tax parity to even things out but the best-case scenario right now is that their rate is dropped to 60 percent. That will still allow Lago to keep more of its winnings.
This is just the latest rift in a battle between the casinos as Finger Lakes and Turning Stone have been opposed to Lago since it filed for a license. The Oneidas, which is the New York tribe that owns Turning Stone, are very concerned for their business as they believe that nearly 50 percent of Lago's business will come from existing action in the region.
Once completed, Lago will be situated in between Syracuse and Rochester, which have a combined population of just over 1.5 million. It will be just 50 miles from Rochester, making it the nearest full-scale casino to the city. Moody's report indicates that Lago will likely pull a lot of their business from players currently visiting Turning Stone, Batavia Downs and Finger Lakes, but it shouldn't have much of an effect on Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier.