ALBANY, N.Y. — Del Lago casino's request for state assistance has not been received warmly by state lawmakers.
"I don't want to get into the business of bailing out private concerns," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, said.
The Seneca County facility badly missed revenue projections in its first year of operation. The owners said that's because circumstances changed since the state awarded its gaming license.
"I think that's just an excuse that's being used to cover up this failure," Assemblyman Ray Walter, D-Amherst, said.
Specifically, del Lago said the Seneca Nation, which has stopped paying New York casino revenues, is using the windfall to lure customers. The Senecas reject the theory, as does Walter.
"The playing field wasn't even to begin with," he said. "They slotted that casino into that spot to compete with the Native American Indians in the first place and they shouldn't have done it from the start."
Del Lago currently pays the state 37.5 percent of its slot revenues and ten percent on tables. The casino will not say what kind of assistance it’s asking for but two state senators who wrote letters opposing the bailout indicate it’s a request for a $14 million tax break. The facility is in Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb's district, but he said he hasn't heard that figure.
"I have not had any conversation with the folks from del Lago," Kolb said. "They have not approached me. They have not corresponded with me so I have no idea what they're asking for or who they've talked to about seeking assistance."
He said he can't comment on a bailout when he's not sure how much the casino wants, but he said the state should've foreseen these struggles when it approved del Lago in a region already saturated with gaming.
"This was Governor Cuomo's baby and it's failed, and if it's true that del Lago's failing and if it's true that Seneca Nation is failing and the racinos, this is all a failed economic development strategy by Governor Cuomo and this really lays at his feet and no one else’s," he said.
Cuomo said they licensed new gaming to create jobs and generate economic development, which he said it's done just in the construction of the facility. Despite his apparent opposition to state assistance, a spokesperson for del Lago said it continues to have conversations with the Senate, Assembly and Governor's Office.