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Betting against the house

Jake's 58 Hotel and Casino in Islandia on

Jake's 58 Hotel and Casino in Islandia on Oct. 4. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Daily Point

Will Cuomo roll the dice?

Expanded gambling has been a big part of state budget talks this year, with many people wanting more, more, more.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is proposing legalized sports gambling, but his opening sally would allow it only onsite at the four upstate non-Indian casinos created the last time the state changed its gambling laws, in 2013.

One reason he may want to limit it in that way? Those four full casinos, built at tremendous expense in lightly populated regions of the state, struggle mightily and need all the revenue they can get.

Meanwhile, every other entity in the state with legal gambling interests, including the five regional off-track betting authorities, are clamoring for a piece of sports gambling, too. And next year, the moratorium on building the three downstate casinos allowed by the 2013 law ends, meaning the real money madness will begin.

How much more lucrative would downstate casinos be than their upstate counterparts? Here’s a hint: Suffolk County OTB’s Jake’s 58 slot parlor in Islandia, with its 1,000 VLTs, is making more money than any of those four upstate casinos.

For the week ending Jan. 27:

  • Tioga Downs Casino and Resort, in Nichols, made a gaming profit of $1,448,355 with its 32 table games, 12 poker tables and 991 VLTs, averaging $190 per day per machine in profit.
  • Del Lago Resort and Casino in Waterloo made a gaming profit of $2,688,989 on 77 table games, 14 poker tables and 1,950 VLTs, averaging $149 per day per machine in profit.
  • Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady made a gaming profit of $2,503,538 with 67 table games, 16 poker tables and 1,150 VLTs, averaging $239 per day per machine in profit.
  • Resorts World Catskills in Monticello made a gaming profit of $2,166,687 with 144 table games, 19 poker tables and 2,156 VLTs, averaging $144 per day per machine in profit.

And Jake’s 58? It made a gaming profit of $4,177,119, on 1,000 VLTs, with no poker tables or table games, averaging a stunning $597 per day per machine in profit.

It’s little wonder that Suffolk OTB President Phil Nolan brimmed with ideas to expand the Suffolk operation in an interview with The Point Wednesday, as new gamblers lined up to sign up for member rewards cards at 11 am. Nolan says Jake’s 58 rewards program now has 175,000 members.

The lesson may be that people in search of gambling revenues do best when they go where the money is.

Lane Filler

Talking Point

Booking it to the web

If you give your email to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign, you immediately receive an automated message including this: “So much of the story of this campaign will take place in your newsfeeds.”

No kidding -- particularly for Booker, who was an early prolific Twitter user and is flooding Facebook with ads for his 2020 bid.

The Point waded through much of that content in Facebook’s political ad archive, finding the New Jersey Democrat attempting to shore up some progressive bona fides for a bruising Democratic primary: “I'm leading the fight for a jobs guarantee,” he says in one ad, promising to “swear off any donations from corporate PACs” in another.

But some of the bigger ads that racked up hundreds of thousands of impressions employ a more moderate or anti-divisive tone -- the sort of uplifting language that Booker has long used on the national stage: “Despite our divisions, the hatred of some, and the economic hardship of many, together we will ensure that our generation and generations to come will achieve things others say can’t be done,” he writes in a paragraphs-long opening message after announcing his run. “I know that together, we can … we will, rise.”

Another ad with large numbers of impressions -- as many as 1 million in one version whose estimated cost was as much as $5,000, according to the archive -- included a video of Booker with his mother, both appearing to tear up while Booker’s proud mother delivers a hopeful message.

“This is America,” she says. “You can be anything you want to be.”

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Making a statement

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Final Point

Rechler sells congestion pricing

The blitz is just beginning.

Last week, a campaign to promote congestion pricing in New York City kicked off with an ad that ran on cable news networks and the Sunday morning talk shows, and got more than 160,000 views on Twitter. The six-figure ad came from the Regional Plan Association, but was paid for by its executive director, developer Scott Rechler, who’s a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a supporter of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The ad, which featured subway commuters talking about how they needed better public transit, and how congestion pricing could be the answer, got “an overwhelmingly positive response,” a source with knowledge of the campaign told The Point.

There’s more to do, but it won’t all come from Rechler’s pocket. Others who back congestion pricing will step up to pay for the continuation of a blitz that will include ads on the subways, pushing the existing video out to the public more and additional internet promotions. The Real Estate Board of New York, Uber, Lyft and others have contributed to the effort, through an umbrella group called Fix Our Transit.

All told, the source said, the organizations expect to spend nearly $1 million on the campaign. And they have a deadline. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants congestion pricing as part of the executive budget.

That gives the coalition less than 2 months to get its message across.

You can see the ad here.

Randi F. Marshall

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