Seneca Gaming sees USD 16 million drop in earnings

The Seneca Gaming Corp.’s profits took a hit during the company’s most recent fiscal year.

In an annual report filed Monday with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the corporation announced a decline in net income of more than USD 16 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The report showed net income dropping to USD 102.6 million from USD 119.2 million a year ago.

During the first two months of the company’s 2009 fiscal year, the Corporation said it experienced a “4.7 percent decrease in slot handle and a 15.0 percent decrease in table games drop, which contributed to a decrease in net revenue of 5.2 percent when compared to the same two-month period from a year ago.”

The filing points to the current recession and addresses the company’s recent decision to layoff more than 200 employees. The filing indicates that the corporation cut staff despite “implementing cost-saving measures during the previous 12-month period in an attempt to reduce expenses and increase profitability.”

“While we have been successful in obtaining such efficiencies, we believe it to be prudent to continue to be conscious of the economic crisis facing all consumers and the resulting tightening of consumer spending and its impact on the availability of discretionary funds for gaming and entertainment purposes,” the corporation wrote.

Net revenues rose at the corporation’s three casinos in Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo, up from USD 592.9 million in 2007 to USD 632 million in 2008. Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel continued to generate the most money, with year-to-year revenues increasing from USD 418.3 million to USD 432.7 million.

Total overall operating expenses also increased for the corporation, from USD 444.7 million in 2007 to USD 487.9 million in 2008.

Other notable features of the filing include:

As of Sept. 30, 2008, 28 percent of the gaming corp.’s roughly 1.5 million Seneca Link Player’s Card members live in the Buffalo-Niagara Area, 22 percent come from Ohio, 42 percent from other areas of New York and Pennsylvania and 8 percent from Canada.

During fiscal year 2008, the average occupancy rate at Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel was 94 percent. According to the corporation, about 72 percent of those rooms were provided on a complimentary basis to its gaming patrons.

The corporation anticipates the official opening of the Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course in Lewiston to occur in spring of 2010. The corporation notes that the decision to open will “depend upon how well the course matures throughout the 2009 growing season.”

The corporation owes money to the New York State Police. According to the filing, the Nation and the State Police are currently involved in an ongoing dispute concerning the exact amount owed to the police for providing regulatory oversight. As of Sept. 30, the filing indicates that the corporation has accrued USD 24.2 million to cover such costs, which it believes is adequate.