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Lago celebrates anniversary, remains optimistic despite Moody’s report last month

As del Lago Resort & Casino celebrates their second anniversary, and looks ahead to another year in Northern Seneca County – management says the focus remains bolstering the region.

Lago’s focus for 2019 will be in continuing to build community, increasing employment opportunities, boosting tourism, and helping local businesses grow.

“As we mark our second year, we are thrilled that del Lago is seeing steady growth as a result of our team’s hard work and commitment,” del Lago Resort & Casino General Manager Mark Juliano said. “I am looking forward to seeing del Lago continue to build momentum as a community leader, partner and an economic generator in our region.”

Employment

From the very beginning, del Lago Resort & Casino made a commitment to help revive the local community and create jobs in a region that has faced extremely high unemployment rates. With more than 1,200 employees, del Lago Resort & Casino is the largest employer in Seneca County, helping significantly lower Seneca County’s unemployment rate. Currently, 25 percent of del Lago’s team members are from Seneca County and 75 percent of its workforce come from the immediate surrounding counties, helping to boost employment throughout the entire region.

As a direct impact of del Lago Resort & Casino opening, hundreds of jobs have also been created at new and existing businesses in the region including restaurants, wineries, retail outlets, service providers, and more, and that number continues to grow.

“When del Lago Resort & Casino was being proposed, the unemployment rate in Seneca County was approximately 7 percent — well above the state and national averages,” Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Shipley said. “Since its doors opened, hundreds of Seneca and neighboring county employees have become gainfully employed at del Lago which has tremendously helped bring down the unemployment rate to 2.9 percent. In its short two years, del Lago has clearly proven to be a great source of employment in the county and I look forward to seeing its continued impact on our region.”

Economic Impact

In two years, del Lago has helped spur development along the Route 414 and 318 corridors as the influx of new and expanding businesses continues to increase the town of Tyre’s tax base. Most recently Finger Lakes Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram, Byrne Dairy and Circle K have established a presence in the area because of del Lago, and local businesses like Magee Diner and Montezuma Winery are flourishing.

As part of del Lago’s commitment to help local businesses grow, del Lago made the decision in January to exclusively serve Seneca Falls-based Montezuma Wines in its Farmers Market Buffet. While other local wines may be purchased at one of del Lago’s many restaurants and bars, the buffet will only serve Montezuma’s Cab Franc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Fat Frog Red and Fat Frog White helping to grow the local winery’s business.

Additional infrastructure is being built at the corner of NYS Route 414 and 318 as a result of del Lago, including the second phase of the Pine View Affordable Housing development and the new Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, which the town of Tyre supervisor notes is directly related to the success of the resort and casino.

“The town of Tyre has seen an overwhelmingly positive impact because of del Lago Resort & Casino,” Tyre Town Supervisor Ron McGreevy said. “Gaming tax revenue received from the casino has not only significantly lowered our property taxes again for 2019 but has allowed the town of Tyre to repair its aging infrastructure and to begin replacing our dated highway equipment. New trucks and equipment have been purchased for our highway department, enabling the town to better maintain its roads. We are truly grateful for del Lago’s presence in our community and we look forward to its continued success.”

On the Horizon

With plans for an additional hotel on property breaking ground this spring and implementation of sportsbook betting in the near future, del Lago Resort & Casino will have additional employment opportunities for Finger Lakes-area job seekers. Del Lago will also continue its Dealer Schools to train potential candidates, giving them the skills to join its team.

Military recruitment efforts to assist veterans transitioning to civilian life will also be a priority for del Lago. Partnerships with local and county organizations, and workforce centers targeting veterans, will allow del Lago to actively recruit veterans who can transfer the outstanding work ethics learned in the military to a position at del Lago Resort & Casino.

As the casino continues to evolve to meet guests’ needs, del Lago also has plans to expand its smoking friendly gaming sections.

In the coming year, del Lago will continue giving back to the community by donating to scores of local healthcare, tourism, service provider, and other community not-for-profits to help these organizations in their mission to support the people of Seneca County and the Finger Lakes region. Del Lago plans to announce a new community giving program in the coming week which will further solidify its place as a leading contributor in the community and a valued partner.

The 94,000-square-foot casino officially opened its doors on February 1st, 2017, and five months later on July 1st, 2017, a 205-room hotel and 14,000-square-foot European-style spa opened on the property.

Moody’s Report Looms

In January, Moody’s Investors Service says del Lago Resort & Casino, located in Tyre, is struggling financially amid significant debt load, and lower-than-expected revenue.

The service lowered the casino’s bond rating and retained the casino’s negative outlook, warning the $440 million facility may end up having to restructure its debt.

“The downgrade and the negative outlook consider that despite a slight pickup in Lago’s monthly gaming revenue, this improvement is not enough to alleviate Moody’s concern that Lago will be challenged to support its annual fixed charges of about $50 million going forward,” Keith Foley, a senior vice president at Moody’s, said in a statement at the time.

del Lago finished its first with about $147 million in revenue — roughly 44 percent lower than it estimated to the state when it was awarded a casino license. Last year, the resort’s owner, Thomas Wilmot, a Rochester-area developer – called for Albany to ‘level’ the playing field against competing Native American-owned facilities, which were operating without tax implications – giving them a significant business advantage.

“Lago’s ramp up in terms of gross gaming revenue continues be at a level well below expectations,” Moody’s said in January. They added that current estimations mean the casino may not be able to cover its debt and operating expenses. “As a result, without further equity investment of some type — the company contributed about $11 million of cash equity earlier this year as part of a covenant amendment — Moody’s is of the opinion that Lago will require a restructuring that involves some level of impairment,” Foley concluded then.

The casino did not comment on the report, but contend that they are optimistic about their continued, future operation.

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