New York casino criticises high tax rate

The New York casino is struggling to compete with neighbouring venues.
The New York casino is struggling to compete with neighbouring venues.

Officials of New York’s Rivers Casino in Schenectady say that the 45% tax rate on its slot machine revenues makes it hard to compete with nearby venues.

US.- The grand opening of the MGM Springfield in Massachusetts posted a challenge for existing, nearby venues. That’s exactly the case of New York’s Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, which is struggling to compete.

According to executives for the venue, the 45% tax rate set on its slot machine revenues endangers its possibilities. 

“We are the highest-taxed slots I’d say in the state. Maybe even in the region,” said Stacey Rowland, vice president and general counsel at Rivers. “It’s hard to compete.”

Other casinos in upstate New York pay either 37% or 39%, which makes it tough on Rivers Casino & Resort to compete. Even worse, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, nearby in Massachusetts pay a 25% tax each.

“Marketing is a huge part of the casino. You want to entice people to come here,” Rowland said. “Every business within the casino is an amenity to the gaming floor. Meaning, we bring in good concerts so people will come into the floor. We serve good food so people come to the floor.”

“It’s very hard to compete with a Springfield when their tax percentage is so much lower,” Rowland continued. “They can then give away the bigger rooms, give away the better tickets, do all that.”

“The reality is, we are a great provider of jobs. We have almost 1,100 jobs here,” Rowland said. “The taxes we pay are very helpful. We would just love to retain and obtain patrons and provide better amenities.”

The New York’s casino executive suggested a lower tax rate could help bring more people in. “If you reduced the tax rate, you may actually still provide the same, if not more, gaming revenue to the state because you’ll have more business,” Rowland said.

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