Mohawk Valley Lawmakers Pledge Commitment to Save Vernon Downs
A collection of state lawmakers from central New York are renewing their pledge to help save Vernon Downs from closure.
Vernon and Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural said this week that his Oneida County operation would shutter for good next year without state action.
Back in April, Gural told the Keeler in the Morning show on WIBX that he'd seen a steady decline in Vernon's revenue in the past several years, adding 'we took a hit' when the Oneida Nation's 'Yellow Brick Road' casino opened in Chittenango.
The local racing season at Vernon was delayed this year, citing figures that the operation wasn't even generating enough money to meet expenses - to the tune of -$150,000 a month, he said. Gural also explained that when the state legalized and granted casino gaming licenses, there was an understanding that subsequent action (in the form tax breaks) would be needed to help New York racino's. He said such breaks for Saratoga was written into the state's bill to legalize gambling, while another measure was passed last year to provided relief to Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack in Farmington, NY.
Jeff Gural on Keeler in the Morning - April 17, 2017:
The Senate has acted on that legislation this year but the Assembly has not, and time is running out in the legislative session.
Gural says it's tied up in 'larger Albany negotiations'.
The Mohawk Valley Nine coalition released a join statement Thursday to voice support for the track:
"Vernon Downs is a Mohawk Valley fixture employing 300 people, supporting surrounding businesses, and bolstering our state's equine industry while at the same time contributing $12 million a year to help education our public school students. Supporting Vernon Downs is critically important for our region. As we head down the final stretch of the legislative session we are strongly advocating that action be taken, before we recess next week, to save this anchor employer and provide financial stability going forward.''
The bi-partisan Mohawk Valley Nine includes Senators Jim Seward, Joseph Griffo, David Valesky, Jim Tedisco and Assembly members Bill Magee, Marc Butler, Ken Blankenbush, Anthony Brindisi and Brian Miller.
Vernon Downs officials said this week that the racing season will continue through November, and the hotel will host banquets and events through December.