SCHENECTADY Rivers Casino & Resort is operating at full capacity for the first time in 15 months following the state’s lifting of most COVID-related restrictions.
This does not amount to full operations, however: the casino is closed four hours a day and there is no live entertainment, no poker room, and no drink service on the casino floor.
Gross income from GGR games, the money played by players minus their winnings returns to pre-pandemic levels. The GGR for April and May 2021 was $ 14.16 million and $ 14.88 million, the highest on record for those two months.
The situation is similar at the Capital Region’s other commercial gambling establishment, Saratoga Casino Hotel: gross revenues from its video slots this spring are starting to approach pre-pandemic levels.
The other three non-Indian casinos in New York del Lago, Resorts World Catskills and Tioga Downs show mixed results with their GGR in spring 2021 compared to the spring results before the pandemic.
Rivers provided an update on its operations on Wednesday, which remains a patchwork of normalcy, caution and recovery as the facility emerges from the pandemic one step at a time, with the steps sometimes spanning weeks or weeks. a few days apart:
- The most visible signs of pandemic plexiglass barriers between slot machines and face masks have disappeared and partially disappeared, respectively. (Face covers are mandatory for unvaccinated employees and customers, but optional for all others, and unmasked guests will not be asked to provide proof of vaccination.)
- The Landing Hotel is open full time.
- Beverage service will resume on Friday at his bar, Van Slycks.
- The casino remains closed from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. for the daily disinfection protocol that the casino put in place when it reopens.
- There is live music on Friday and Saturday nights at Dukes Chophouse.
- Live shows at the Event Center and at Van Slyck; the poker room; drinks on the casino floor; and 290 of the 1,150 slots Rivers had when it closed operations in March 2020. (Rivers removed many slots to ensure social distancing when it reopens at 25% capacity in September 2020.)
The financial evolution of 2021 will likely depend on how quickly its clientele becomes comfortable returning to large indoor venues and how quickly Rivers can restore its various sources of revenue beyond gaming, such as the food and drink.
Calendar year 2020 has started off very strongly for Rivers, with the best GGRs of January and February of all time. Then the bottom collapsed when the facility was closed for six months.
Rivers is now returning to 2019 GGR levels, averaging $ 12.93 million per month in 2021, up from $ 13.56 million in the same five months of 2019.
It has paid $ 23.14 million in gaming taxes so far in 2021, up from $ 23.53 million in the same five months of 2019.
Tax revenues are shared between the State (80%); the county and town of Schenectady (5% each); and seven neighboring counties (10%, broken down by population).
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