Moody’s Investor Services has downgraded ratings for Del Lago Casino in the Finger Lakes region for the second straight year.
Moody’s said Del Lago’s ramp up in terms of gross gaming revenue remains well below expectation. It does not believe the casino will generate enough money to cover its financial obligations over the next 12-18 months.
“As a result, without further equity investment of some type — the company contributed about $11 million of cash equity earlier this as part of a covenant amendment — Moody’s is of the opinion that Lago will require a restructuring that involves some level of impairment,” said Keith Foley, Moody’s senior vice president.
The company said the casino’s key credit challenges include the slower than expected ramp up and the highly competitive nature of the market. Moody’s pointed to Oneida-run Turning Stone Casino, about 75 miles to the east, as well as Seneca facilities to the west as direct competitors.
The tribal facilities have a more favorable tax regime than del Lago. There are also four “racinos” within 100 miles, dipping into the market share.
“The downgrade and the negative outlook consider that despite a slight pickup in Lago’s monthly gaming revenue, this improvement is not enough to alleviate Moody’s concern that Lago will be challenged to support its annual fixed charges of about $50 million going forward,” Foley said.
During the final days of state budget negotiations last year, the casino asked legislative leaders and the governor’s office for assistance, potentially in the form of a lower tax rate. Many lawmakers pushed back on the idea of a “bailout” and it was not included in the budget.
Del Lago officially opened in February 2017.