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Empire Resorts/Resorts World Catskill Casino

Empire Resorts, the licensed operator of Resorts World Catskill casino, is licensed to build a $1 billion entertainment and resort casino in Sullivan County. This facility, the largest in New York State, is set to open in March of 2018. As Empire prepares for opening, they continue to evaluate the competitive landscape in neighboring states and assess the various inducements provided by other gaming facilities to attract players. In the competitive Northeastern gaming market, the use of key marketing strategies can have a dramatic impact on a casino’s ability to generate revenue. Thus, when the New York Gaming Commission began to contemplate the amount of tax free promotional play that would be allowed for a casino operator, this issue became a key indicator in Resort World Catskills ability to compete in the marketplace. The use of tax free promotional play is particularly a key marketing strategy in a casinos efforts to attract players from key geographical locations such as New York City area and Northern New Jersey. Since comparable facilities, such as the Bethlehem Sands, have operated with very few limits on the amount of tax free promotional play they can provide players, a free play allotment above the current 15% provided to New York State video lottery terminal (VLT) operators would be necessary to remain competitive.

Initially the Gaming Commission sought to only provide casino operators with a 15% tax free promotional play allotment similar to what is currently authorized to VLT operators. ASA initially worked on a two-pronged approach in seeking a greater free play allotment. First, ASA worked with Empire to provide the New York State Gaming Commission and the Governor’s Office with the necessary data to provide a platform for flexibility in how free play would be determined for a casino operator. This led to the New York State Gaming Commission issuing rules and regulations that provides a casino operator with the ability to seek increase in tax free play allotment if the casino could show to the Commission that such an increase would not negatively impact state revenue. Once these rules and regulations were adopted, ASA worked with Empire to provide the Gaming Commission with the necessary information to provide the Commission with the foundation for a decision which would allow for an increase in tax free play allotments provided to Resorts World Catskill. In September of 2017, after over a year of work with the Gaming Commission, Resorts World Catskill was approved for an increase in free play above the allotted 15% tax free play allowance. This increase will help Resorts World Catskill to successfully compete with existing casino operators in the Northeastern gaming market.  

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