- The Associated Press reported yesterday that New York State has become increasingly dependent on revenue from the state's eight racinos as lottery sales level off. While total Lotto and scratch-off sales are still slightly up overall, the results from the VLT's are defying trends in the gambling industry.
More than half of all racino revenue came from Empire City at Yonkers Raceway, which opened in 2006 and is the only video gambling operation located in the lucrative New York City-area market. Revenues at Yonkers were up April-through-October compared to 2007, even as the economy sputtered. In fact, revenues were up at all racinos except for the one at Monticello Raceway.Our friend Bennett Liebman is quoted here as saying that the coming racino at the Big A could cut into Yonkers' business; but a lottery spokesperson disagreed: "We think the total pie will get bigger at the expense of out-of-state facilities." Hmmm, can't imagine that an Aqueduct racino won't have at least some negative effect on the business at Yonkers.
Liebman also warns that gambling is not a recession-proof business and racino revenues could still falter. Indeed, though I've wrongly predicted gloom in the recent past, the figures at Yonkers for October and November have indeed leveled off; that despite the easing in the gas prices that were supposedly preventing gamblers from traveling to Atlantic City.
The Monticello racino will be moving along with the racetrack to the new Concord complex....or at least we hope so. The latest news is that developer Louis Cappelli, who has already gotten tax breaks way above and beyond the call of duty from both the state and Sullivan County, is asking for even more assistance in the face of the financial crisis.
And tomorrow, Governor Paterson will announce his ideas for $2 billion in spending cuts for the current fiscal year; cuts which are expected to include education and Medicaid. I guess if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself, especially when you're depending on New York State legislators, of either party, to actually cut spending. His call for the Senate and Assembly leaders to come up with $1.5 billion in cuts was met with stony silence. As the Daily News' Bill Hammond wrote: The only sound at the Capitol was crickets. Well, maybe that plus the sound of labor union leaders burning up their internet lines. And perhaps mayors warning against the dangers of cutting local aid.
Next week's special budget-cutting session, with a lame duck Republican majority in the Senate, promises to be interesting if not particularly productive. With the so-called Gang of Four down to Three, and with even the most ardent of the group, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr, not sounding inclined to switch parties at this point, the Democrats will, next year, have a majority of at least 32-30. That tally is pending the results of the recount in Queens SD-11, where incumbent GOP Senator Frank Padavan leads Jim Gennaro by less than 1,000 votes.