In N.Y., Casino Tax Relief Could Be on the Way

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (l.) new budget offers a way for Covid-battered casino licensees to lower the rates they pay on slot revenue by more than 10 percent. But there will be strings attached.

New York’s four commercial casinos could petition the state for tax relief if they can prove hardship.

The proposal, included in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2021-22 budget plan, could reduce the tax rate on machine gaming revenue to 25 percent if the properties can make a requisite case, which would include providing state officials with “a complete examination of all financial projections.”

It’s possible they also will be required to reinvest the savings in their physical plants to enhance their marketability.

The casinos are taxed on slot win on a sliding scale, based on the demographics of their markets𑁋from a low of 37 percent at del Lago Resort & Casino in the Finger Lakes and Tioga Downs Casino Hotel in the Southern Tier to 39 percent at Resorts World Catskills Hotel & Casino in Monticello and 45 percent at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady.

The four all pay 10 percent on table game revenue.

“We suggest that the burden be on the operator to demonstrate that tax relief is in best interest of state and operator,” said Mike Pollock, whose Spectrum Gaming Group has been commissioned by the state to compile a report covering all aspects of gaming in New York.

The upstate market was a challenging one for most of the venues even before the pandemic forced them to close last year for nearly six months and has them operating currently under capacity restrictions and other health and safety precautions.

It’s likely all four will seek the tax breaks.

“The challenges raised by the pandemic and the attendant closures made (the need) more critical, particularly raising questions as to whether some properties might need such consideration to remain going concerns,” said Spectrum Vice President Joseph Weinert.

As Rivers put it in a statement last week, “The Covid-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented economic disaster to the city of Schenectady and the state of New York, so we are encouraged that the governor’s budget prioritizes stabilization of the upstate casinos and the preservation of casino jobs.”