The Saratoga Casino Hotel is planning to bring a number of functional and aesthetic upgrades via a $8-million capital project, as well as a VIP lounge, a sports bar, and other upgrades. The plans were officially unveiled yesterday by casino managers, who presented the changes as a necessary change which will keep the gambling venue in line with the competition in a gambling market which has recently become extremely crowded.
Apart from the addition of bar and lounge, the changes which are to be brought to the casino include an upgraded high-roller slot machine area; addition of multimedia screens throughout the venue; a reconfigured gaming floor; upgraded audio and lighting; centralized kiosk redemption, as well as self-service beverage stations offering water, coffee and soft drinks. The reconstruction and upgrade work is set to be finalized in the second half of 2019. The process would not interrupt Saratoga Casino Hotel’s normal operation, so the venue would remain open as works are in progress.
Despite the fact that the casino currently offers about 1,700 video slot machines which do not remain unoccupied, the casino operators’ managers claim that the opening of Schenectady-based Rivers Casino has had a negative impact on Saratoga Casino Hotel’s performance.
Skip Carlton, the Vice President of External Affairs at Saratoga Casino Hotel, explained that the venue saw a 25% decline in gross gaming revenue in comparison to the results reported two years ago before a rival casino started operation. He deliberately has not named the competitor. Mr. Carlton further noted that the capital improvement in the venue’s makeover as a step which was absolutely necessary for Saratoga Casino to remain profitable and to compete, especially considering that it has once been the leading entertainment venue in the Capital District.
2017 Opening of Rivers Casino Hurt Saratoga Casino’s Profitability
Saratoga Casino Hotel was the first racino which started operation in New York in 2004. At the time, the existing harness horse race track was extended with a gaming floor offering a variety of video slot machines. After the venue’s opening, its customers used to gamble successively larger amounts of money in nine of the following twelve fiscal years, with the sums rising from $1.1 billion in 2004/05 to $2.42 billion in 2016/17.
However, the opening of the Rivers Casino & Resort in close proximity to Schenectady in February 2017, had a negative impact on Saratoga Casino Hotel’s performance. The amount spent at the venue in 2017/18 fell to $1.97 billion, and then to $1.88 billion in 2018/19.
Mr. Carlton may have not mentioned the name of Saratoga Casino Hotel’s competitor, but it is not hard to find out which this rival is. At the same time, the customer outflow is understandable, as it is a lot easier for people in Schenectady and Albany areas to get to the Rivers Casino than to Saratoga Casino Hotel. In addition, the Rivers currently offers more gaming options to its customers, including casino table games and poker. Soon, it will start offering sports betting, too.
For the time being, table games and poker games are not available at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Mr. Carlson, however, said that the casino management is considering the possible addition of such gaming options, no matter if it requires a constitutional amendment.