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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Winner is Monticello Raceway. The Losers are Tioga, Vernon Downs and Saratoga Raceway

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board has announced the winners of the valued casino licenses.

Montreign Resort and Casino owned by Empire Resorts which operates Monticello Raceway is the big winner in the Catskill/Hudson Valley Region.  With Empire Resorts getting the gaming license, horse racing at Monticello will continue for at least the next nine years.  While it was expected that two licenses would be issued in Ulster-Sullivan-Orange County, the board decided to award only one license and discounted Orange County because it would cannibalize existing slot parlors and negatively impact any casino in the Catskills.

In the Capital Region, the winner is Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor, in Schenectady.  This means Saratoga Raceway and its two different partners, was shut out in its quest to obtain a casino license.  It is likely this will cannibalize Saratoga Raceway's VLTs as there is less than 30 miles between the two locations.  However, the law calls for the new casino to subsidize purses at the raceway to make up any shortfalls from cannibalization.  So while horsemen are expected to be made whole, the Raceway is expecting a 40% drop off in business which will  result in a loss of jobs at the track/racino.  The question will be if the racino can keep up with its debt service.

In the Finger Lakes/Southern Tier  region, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs takes a blow as Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre (nearer Syracuse, NY), the board turning down Tioga Downs' proposal.  As disappointing as it will be for Tioga Downs, with roughly 85 miles between Tyre and Nichols, the cannibalization should not be as great as it would have been if the Legends Proposal was approved.  Make no mistake, the Gural team will be disappointed.  It remains to be seen what the impact will be on Tioga and Vernon Downs in the long run.

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