Saratoga Casino gambling $8 million on improvements in face of competition

May 30, 2019 07:21 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - If Saratoga Casino is suffering from the impact of increased competition, it wasn't obvious Thursday afternoon.

Many of the 1,700 video slot machines were occupied, but according to casino operators, the impact from the opening of Rivers Casino in Schenectady has been real.


"We're definitely down 25-percent in gross gaming revenue from two years ago before a casino that will not be named opened up," said Saratoga Casino Hotel Vice President of External Affairs Skip Carlson.

Carlson said they hope to gain some of that market share back and their strategy includes $8 million in upgrades.

The casino is getting a complete makeover. They're swapping out all the carpet, the wallpaper is coming down, and they're changing the lighting and the audio.

However, the centerpiece of the project is a new sports bar which will accommodate about 75 people at a time. The bar will overlook the gaming floor and have 28 monitors to watch sports and racing.

The upgrades will also include a new VIP lounge and self-serve beverage stations.

Saratoga doesn't have live gaming like it's neighbor to the south does, but its management is trumpeting the advantages of its location.

"I think the advantage that we have over a lot of these other competitors is Saratoga Springs and I can't say that enough," said Carlson.

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said the business community is very much aware of the competition from places like Schenectady, Springfield, and this summer, Boston.

"There are communities everywhere around the world, around the country, around the Northeast that are trying to come after us and take visitors away and we've got to have every amenity, world class destinations, everything you could possibly imagine right here in Saratoga," Shimkus said.

Saratoga Casino plans to open its new sports bar and VIP lounge in the fall - at around the same time Rivers plans to open its new sports betting lounge.


Mark Mulholland

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