New York Casinos Owe Millions in Oversight Fees

Thomas P DiNapoli - Comptroller of the State of New York

The New York State Comptroller’s Office is reporting that four casinos in the state still owe millions in oversight fees.

It’s never good to owe anyone money, but when it gets into the millions, it might be a problem. In New York State, the Comptroller’s Office is reporting that four casinos have not paid oversight fees that were owed from a few years ago. In total, four casinos owe $13 million. The fees first came about in early 2017 and go through March 2019.

Details of the Fees

The Comptroller released a report in January of last year that stated the New York Gaming Commission did not bill or collect fees from the Rivers Casino, Tioga Downs Casino, Resorts World, and Del Lago Resorts and Casino.

The properties were billed just over $9 million in fees back in November 2019. They were given until the next month to pay up. As of this month, the Gaming Commission has yet to be provided any of the fees owed, based on the report by the Comptroller’s office.

According to the Gaming Commission, it was insufficient regulations that stopped the regulator from billing the casinos of the oversight fees. This is what led to the delay. In the same time frame, tribal casinos and video lottery terminal operators paid over $153 million.

On top of the oversight fee billing issue, the Commission also did not bill the casinos over $3 million in non-personal service costs. This applies to suppliers and office equipment. In total, once all the bills are added up, the four casinos owe over $17 million.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that the Gaming Commission has to do a better job of staying on top of the gaming footprint as the industry grows. The oversight charges should be collected as the casinos are supposed to pay those costs.

Recommendations were provided by the Comptroller as to how the fees should be recovered. The Commission does not have policies in place that cover the oversight charge disputes. There is no path as to how the issue needs to be resolved.

The Commission has also been called out for inadequately monitoring revenue reports connected to the casinos operated by Native Americans. The Commission has reportedly made changes but more needs to be done to ensure that payments are made especially as more casinos open up in the future.

Can the Casinos Pay Up?

Owing millions of dollars is a big deal, especially right now as we are all trying to survive in the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York State, gaming venues were shut down for quite a long time as the virus ran rampant in the state. For months, residents were on a lockdown of varying levels and casinos were unable to operate due to social distancing needs.

Will the four casinos be able to pay these large amounts owed to the Commission? For the past year, revenues have been quite low, and even non-existent for a bit. Will the Commission be willing to take payments or delay the fees again in order for the casinos to continue with the recovery process?

It is important that the Commission figure out how to function with the oversight fees and other tasks as the state is going to be allowing more casinos in the future, possibly sooner rather than later. The state has a few more licenses that can be handed out by 2023, but some lawmakers are trying to push the date up to now, so that more revenues can be brought in.

Whatever happens, the Commission needs to be ready to license as well as regulate these venues, which includes billing for oversight fees a well as other tasks. Hopefully, the Commission can figure out a good strategy that works well.

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