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del Lago seeks help from NYS to compete more effectively with other casinos

The del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County is looking for financial help from the state. Principal owner Tom Wilmot was in Albany Tuesday looking for assistance from state leaders after the casino reportedly ended its first year in operation with about 44 percent lower revenue than projected.

A spokesman for del Lago, Steve Greenberg, says that casino is at a competitive disadvantage. He says since the time that del Lago originally got its casino license, the Seneca Nation stopped making payments to the state and local governments and is using that savings to promote their casinos, at the expense of del Lago.

“They’re providing additional promotions, additional incentives to players and they’re luring  players that would otherwise go to del Lago, to the Seneca Nation…it’s working,” he told WXXI News.

Del Lago says it is paying its bills, but Greenberg says the resort needs help to remain sustainable.

“Right now, del Lago continues to grow, increase its customer base and is moving along and we just want to be able to continue doing that into the distant future.”

There is no word yet specifically what kind of help del Lago is seeking. The D&C reported that one possibility might be a request for a lower tax rate to be paid to the state.

Last year the Senecas said they would stop sharing casino revenues with the state because its financial obligation to New York as outlined in a 2002 compact has ended. The Senecas say they turned over $1.4 billion to the state over the last 14 years.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Seneca Nation issued this statement in response to del Lago’s press release:

"The owners of del Lago had unrealistic expectations when they applied for their gaming license. Despite various concerns that were raised, the project was approved by the State. Del Lago's estimates were that they were going to take significant market share from both the Seneca Nation's operations in Western New York and from the Oneida operations in Central New York. On top of that, their projections also called for significant new outside revenue. Which of those promises did they fail to live up to? The numbers don't lie. The projections haven't materialized, falling short by some 44 percent, and now, del Lago is turning to the State to fund their failure to meet their own goals. That’s their fault, not ours."

A spokesman for the Seneca Nation says that the owners of del Lago had unrealistic expectations when they applied for their gaming license, and he says that del Lago is turning to New York State to fund their failure to meet their own goals.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.