Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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March 29th, 2019

Empire Resorts Casino License Should Be Revoked By New York State Gaming Commission

Empire Resorts the operator of Resorts World Casino and Monticello Raceway and Gaming should have their casino license revoked by the New York State Gaming Commission.

They lied to our elected officials, New York State Gaming Officials, and our IDA when they said they would keep the Racino at Monticello Raceway open if they were awarded a gaming license to build Resorts World Catskills.

They lied to our elected officials, New York State Gaming Officials, and our IDA when their hype claimed they would construct a gaming facility the East Coast has never seen. I guess they didn’t visit Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, or the Borgata.

The Racino is closing mid-April eliminating over 1,000 video terminals to help the bottom line of Empire’s Resorts World Catskills.  Not only are people losing their jobs, but an important revenue stream for the Village of Monticello and the Town of Thompson will also be coming to an end.

There is no guarantee Monticello Raceway will remain open once the Empire Resorts contract with the horsemen expires – even though the raceway is a cash cow in simulcasting money – purses are expected to go down with no Racino in operation.

Standardbred racing and horse training has been an overlooked yet vibrant backbone of Sullivan County’s history and economy for years, and now that too is in jeopardy.

The only response from our elected officials and the IDA thus far has been sounds of silence. There is no outrage. Our leaders appear to care less about all these developments.

These are the very same people minus a few legislators who led the fight to get Empire Resorts the gaming license when they could have pushed harder for more credible and established gaming companies like Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.

Adding even more salt to the wound is news that Resorts World Catskills is taking away 25 percent of their slot machines and over 20 percent of their table games in an effort to stop the financial bleeding.

Resorts World Catskills has under-performed since day one. They took in 45 percent less in gross revenues than they projected, $153.65 million instead of $277 million.

The average take was $117 per day per slot machine, below the $200 per machine level needed to help the bottom line.

All this means less revenue for Sullivan County, and our Towns and Villages probably could forget about sharing any of these revenues.

It is the belief that with fewer slot machines, the ones in operation will receive more play and thus increase payouts and provide a lucrative revenue stream for the company.

Empire Resorts is a public company traded under the symbol NYNY. Security and Exchange documents note that their executives have made millions in stock and bonuses, yet Sullivan County is there to give them tax incentives while they are not meeting their benchmarks.

The big anticipated revenue stream for Resorts World Catskills is now Sports Betting. Expected to start in May, New York State residents will not only be able to bet on sports at gaming facilities, but eventually from their computers and phones.

There is also a push to immediately grant three gaming licenses in the New York City metropolitan area with a catch that part of the revenues will go to help upstate casinos. Amazingly one of those pushing this is Empire Resorts major investor Resorts Worlds New York City which operates the Racino at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Resorts World Catskills left a sour taste in the mouths of those visiting gaming facilities from day one, and it will be an uphill battle to attract these people back. It is not the entertainment resort destination casino goers were promised.

It appeared management only wanted to go after the lucrative Asian market and ignored other gamblers. Table games were set at a $25 minimum bet on weekends, and entertainment and food establishments were below scale for such an anticipated resort. Their hyped Entertainment Village was cut back drastically. The new hotel isn’t even connected to the casino.

The agency that booked acts in all our famed hotels wasn’t even granted a meeting to discuss entertainment at the venue. So much for helping established Sullivan County companies.

In recent weeks, the casino has beefed up their promotions and have booked several known acts, but will it be enough to help them succeed?

The plan to approve legalized casino gaming in New York State was flawed from day one. All the approved casinos should have been granted just for Sullivan County. Upstate New York was already flooded with Indian Casino Gaming.

It was Sullivan County that led the fight to restore the Catskill Mountains as a world-renowned resort destination, and it could have worked if all four casinos were placed here.

Instead, New York State and its leaders decided to spread legalized gaming out like horse manure, thus creating gaming halls attracting local populations and not vacation goers or organizations and businesses seeking a place to bring their meetings and conventions to a true resort destination.

It is devastating for casino advocates like myself, Tony Cellini, Leni Binder, Jacob Billig, and so many others to see this outcome.

It is time for the silence to end. Our leaders must speak out. Our Horsemen must be protected. And, Empire Resorts gaming license should be revoked by the New York State Gaming Commission and given to another company.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

4 comments to Empire Resorts Casino License Should Be Revoked By New York State Gaming Commission

  • Mort Segal

    Good Post. Agree on all counts. Sullivan County waited and prayed for gambling to come for many years. A building doesn’t do it. It’s the management that’s important to make it work

  • Steve Gastwirth

    Too much established competition, too little to late, not enough of an attraction to bring customers from far away to make this a long term destination venue.

  • Jeanne Moore

    The people running this place blew it from day 1 and have made no effort to accommodate their customers. Food is disgusting. They offer free play and then won’t give it to you. I stopped going and don’t plan to return.