Day At The Track

Mixed feelings on NY passage of gaming bill

05:17 AM 07 Nov 2013 NZDT
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“The jury is still out on this one,” said Joe Faraldo, attorney for Standardbred Breeders Association of New York in pertaining to the passage of the casino gaming legislation in New York after yesterday’s elections.

“It’s sort of like a wet kiss in the night,” Faraldo explained. “The legislation has been passed but no one has really seen this legislation and not enough people paid attention to the details.”

“I am very pleased for us at Tioga and for Monticello and Saratoga that the legislation passed.” Said Jeff Gural, president and CEO of Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands. “It bodes well for the sport and obviously we are happy. It should give us a leg up on the competition for the future.”

I was also pleased with the election results,” Gural added. “You never know how the people will turn out for an election. But the issue in New York was strong for more public jobs that the casinos will bring and it was not a moral issue about gambling.”

Faraldo explained that the new legislation at best will allow Saratoga Raceway, Monticello Raceway and Tioga Downs the opportunity to have full-fledged casinos (slots and live table games). But Batavia Downs, Buffalo Raceway and Vernon Downs are excluded from any chance because they are too close to already established Indian casinos. Yonkers Raceway, as part of the legislation, is excluded from any consideration for live table games for seven years.

It was also pointed out by Faraldo and Todd Haight, the General Manager of racing at Batavia Downs, that any revenue from live table games in New York, is treated the same as in Pennsylvania, and does not share a percentage with the tracks for purses or for the New York Sire Stakes program.

“The legislation is wordy about a cap of agricultural and racing business,” Faraldo added. “There is a freeze at 2013 consumer pricing for purse levels and growth of the industry. Currently 25% net win sets what purse money is allotted to tracks and to the breeding program (NYSS). So when a Racino turns into a Casino and gets live table games, the cap is on 2013 levels.

“This can mean that racing can get less revenue if more money is spent on live games than the slot machines,” Farado explained. “Most of the Racinos now have electronic table games for craps, roulette and some have blackjack but when those games are replaced by live games, then racing will lose out on revenue.”

When might Tioga Downs, Saratoga Raceway and Monticello Raceway see their Racinos turn into Casinos?

“It will take some time for the selection committees to come up with the rules and regulations,” Gural said. “At least a year or more from now and they won’t get started on it until it becomes law on January 1, 2014. I feel this will be great for us because the table games will bring a younger demographic to the casino and for racing. We still have a bidding process to go through for the three tracks but I am hopeful it will all work out in our favor.”

“There is a lot of permitting and new rules that have to be developed,” Faraldo explained. “It could be one year, one and half years, even two years before the first full gaming casino comes about. That is a tough call.

“I think the three racinos that could turn into full casino will most certainly benefit from it.” Faraldo added. “It may not be a home run for them but more like hitting ground balls, which is still good.”

By Steve Wolf for

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