THOMPSON – Empire Resorts, the parent company of Resorts World Catskills casino, recorded a third-quarter loss of $33.7 million on revenue of $59.9 million and operating expenses of $77.8 million, according to its third-quarter earnings report filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Interest on the company's $518 million of debt accounted for much of the loss. Empire Resorts also operates the Monticello Casino and Raceway, which has lost money in the past, but the company does not separate the two properties' results.

Empire Resorts' results improved somewhat from the second quarter, when it lost $37.2 million on revenue of $49.1 million and operating expenses of $71.5 million. The casino opened on Feb. 8.

Malaysian-Chinese casino magnate K.T. Lim, whose family trust has accumulated 88 percent ownership of Empire Resorts since rescuing the company in 2009, will strongly backstop the casino, according to the second-quarter filing. That trust, Kien Huat Realty, agreed to provide equity financing by purchasing up to $126 million in preferred stock.

In a statement Wednesday, Ryan Eller, Empire Resorts president and CEO, said “Resorts World Catskills has continued to see growth and improvement, having become the highest-grossing full commercial casino in New York in Q3 of this year."

"We expect further steady growth and improvement as we enhance our amenities and define our role as the premier destination casino resort in New York,” added Eller, who said the casino has created 1,700 jobs, decreasing unemployment to historically low levels and driving the Catskills' economy.

Rather than allowing casinos closer to New York City, where they would be the most profitable, state leaders sold the 2013 effort to authorize non-Indian gaming as a way to bring jobs and investment to economically disadvantaged upstate areas.

Sullivan County's $925 million, 1.6-million-square-foot casino has gotten off to a rocky start, as Empire Resorts continues the phased opening of its amenities and ramps up marketing.

The Town of Thompson casino earned $134 per slot machine per day in September, up 21 percent from $111 in July, the end of second quarter, according to the state Gaming Commission. The casino must earn at least $200 daily per slot machine to be viable because slots typically account for up to 70 percent of gross gaming revenues, gaming experts have told the Times Herald-Record.

The most recent table-game figures were significant for reaching a healthy $1,589-per-table per-day threshold in September, up 33 percent from July.

Empire Resorts’ leaders are betting a new $33 million entertainment complex due in December will create more gambling revenue and increase non-gaming revenue.

The planned expansion includes a 101-room mid-market hotel, restaurants and additional retail and entertainment attractions. The neighboring water park, under different owners, and the casino's Monster Golf Course are anticipated for 2019.

“Once everything is in place, you have more than just a casino,” said Luis Alvarez, chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature. “If you look at the hotel and the water park, you have a destination for the whole family.”

Alvarez and Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber said the county and towns' 2019 budgets are structured to handle the casino's tax revenue even if it doesn't produce as much as they hoped.

“One of the biggest advantages they have is K.T. Lim,” said Rieber, who expressed confidence in the casino’s future and the Catskills’ tourism appeal. “He’s got deep pockets, and he’s committed to the casino’s success.”