County says financial outlook ‘continues to strengthen’

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Gaming revenue that Oneida County collected from the Oneida Indian Nation in 2017 was in line with what was budgeted, while countywide sales tax revenue was nearly $2 million above budget, announced County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.

The county’s “financial foundation...continues to strengthen thanks to a steady and increasing stream of revenue from the Oneida Nation’s gaming earnings and sales tax collection,” according to the announcement Tuesday.

• Gaming revenue from the Oneida Nation “was in line with the $15.5 million” that Picente budgeted, the announcement said.

“While other competing casinos have fallen short of their goals, and so-called experts are decrying an oversaturation of the market, the Oneida Nation’s gaming properties — including the world-class Turning Stone Resort Casino — have continued to enjoy unprecedented success,” Picente said.

“The revenue we collect from our agreement has been at or above baseline each quarter, and is right in step with what I budgeted,” the Oneida County executive added.

Under a 2013 settlement, the Oneida Nation shares 25 percent of its slot machine revenues with the state. Of that amount, one-quarter goes to Oneida County; Turning Stone is in the county, in the town of Verona. The settlement guaranteed a $12.5 million baseline for the county.

• For sales tax revenue, $97,989,139 was collected countywide, which is $1,893,537 more than budgeted and up 3.05 percent from the 2016 total of $95,086,906, said the announcement.

The growth is expected to continue this year, the announcement added, noting that Picente has budgeted for $99,525,000 which represents a 1.57 percent increase.

The county’s sales tax rate is 8.75 percent. Of that, 4 percent goes to the state while the remaining 4.75 percent is divided among the county and its cities, towns and villages.

The gaming and sales tax revenue streams “further solidify the county’s efforts to keep property taxes at the lowest possible level,” the announcement said. Picente said “these figures are strong indicators that Oneida County is on solid financial ground and our economic forecast is bright....”

While Oneida County and the Turning Stone outlook has remained strong despite the increase of gaming opportunities across the state, some regions where gaming has been added are not meeting their financial projections. This includes the Del Lago casino in the Seneca County community of Tyre. ‘

According to published reports, the Del Lago Resort and Casino generated $113 million in gambling revenue in its first nine months of operation, putting it on track to finish short of its projected $263 million.

Officials with Del Lago said that they expected revenue to increase in 2018. Spokesman Steven Greenberg noted that its hotel only opened this summer and that they are confident about growth in 2018.

“They’re new entities,” he said. “You’ve got to give this some time to build their businesses.”

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