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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vernon Downs Days are Numbered?

In an initial response from Jeff Gural, he indicates Vernon Downs is now living on borrowed time as a result of the decision to build a casino in the Finger Lakes.  He further goes on to suggest the Lago Resort and Casino proposal probably means the end of racing at Finger Lakes as well.  As quoted“I’m probably going to stop. It’ll hurt me at Vernon eventually. I wouldn't be surprised if Finger Lakes closes". Elsewhere it is reported that Tioga Downs will go on as it currently is.  

As smart as the selection board was by not authorizing a casino in Orange County, for the possibility it will cannibalize the downstate casinos and cripple a casino in Sullivan County, it seems at the surface it hurts the Indian casinos upstate as well as two racetracks.  I must admit, I wonder how they can get it so right in the Catskill-Hudson Valley Region and get it so wrong in the Finger Lakes-Southern Tier region?  

It will be interesting to read the site selection board's full report on their selection process due a month from now.  One thing which hurt Tioga's proposal was the fact it had done so much development ahead of time in anticipation of a casino as the board mentioned a big factor was the amount of money to be invested in developing a casino which makes the amount of money to be invested at Tioga a lot less than the other proposals.  

So the question must be asked how much longer does Vernon Downs have?  One would imagine the track will remain open until the Lago Resort opens up.  Will someone seek to purchase the track, probably not.

So with Vernon Downs on life support, the question becomes what happens to the race days at Vernon?  As you are aware, Vernon Downs opens before and closes after Tioga Downs' meet which is oriented to the summer months.  I fear short of the NYGC mandating Tioga to pick up additional race dates, those dates will be lost.  Tioga's per capita is anemic to be polite and with the economic condition of the area, there seems little which can be done to stimulate wagering on track; any gain will have to come from those who take the exported signal.

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