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Milky Way Rae (Aaron Byron) captured the fillies and mares featured Open 2 Pace ($9000), on Friday (May 25) at Tioga Downs. K J's Caroline (Mike Merton) went right to the lead and carried all the early fractions (:26.2, :55.4, 123.4). She was pressured by Ask Queenie (Jim Taggart Jr.) all the way around the final turn. Milky Way Rae ($10.00) watched all the action from the pocket seat. Owned by Fortunate One LLC., and trained by Tony Dinges, she would make her move after Ask Queenie went on a break. Milky Way Rae zoomed to the front and won in a career best time of 1:52.4. Super Soph (Jim Meittinis) came on late to finish second. Beyonces Rockn (Kyle DiBenedetto) took third. Milky Way Rae is a 5-year-old mare by American Ideal. She notched win number two of the season. It was her 18th career win. Aaron Byron and Mike Merton each won two on the night. They are tied for the leading driver standings with 11 wins a piece. Jim Taggart Jr. and Jim Meittinis also won two races on the night. They are tied for third in the standings with eight wins each. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (May 25) with an eight race card starting at 6:15. For more information go to www.tiogadowns .com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs.  

Two AM (Tyler Buter) won the harness racing co-featured Open Trot ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on Sunday (May 20). Dragin The Wagon (Aaron) led the group into first quarter in :28.3. Prairie Fortune (Jim Meittinis) took over and controlled the next fractions (:57.0, 1:26.3) and led going into the stretch. Two AM ($5.90), who is owned by Gene Oldford Farms, L.M. Buter, and the Fuhs Stable, while trained by Todd Buter, charged late in the stretch to win in 1:54.2. Prairie Fortune held on for second with I'm Fabulous (Jim Taggart Jr.) finishing in third. Two AM is a 4-year-old gelding by Muscle Massive. He is one for one in 2018. It was his 13th career victory. Chantepleure (Austin Siegelman goes gate to wire to take the Open Pace ($12,000). Chantepleure ($25.60) flew out of the gate like he had wings and led by five lengths by the first quarter Owned by Rose Deluca and trained by Dawn Devaux, he controlled all the fractions (:27.2, :55.3, 1:22.2, 1:50.1). Major Leaguer (Jimmy Whittemore) came up to finish second with Doo Wop Hanover (Jim Meittinis) getting third. Chantepleure is a 7-year-old gelding by Art Major. It was his second win of the season and his20th career win. The time of 1:50.2 smashed his lifetime best by three seconds Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 25) at 6:15 p.m.. Tioga Downs will celebrate Memorail Day a day early. The will have a special Sunday night (May 27) card starting at 6:15 p.m., with firworks following the live performance. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs      

Sudden Change N (Jim Taggart Jr.) takes the Tioga Downs Fillies and Mares Open 2 ($9,000), on Saturday (May 19). Harness racing driver John Cummings Jr visits the winner's circle five times. In the feature, K J's Caroline (Mike Merton) charged out to the lead and controlled all the early fractions (:27.1, :56.2, 1:23.4). Sudden Change N ($9.70), who is owned by trainer Jody Riedel and Super Mile LLC., went first-over from last just before the three-quarter mark. K J's Caroline looked like she was a winner in the stretch but Sudden Change N made one more run at her to nip her at the wire in 1:52.2. K J's Caroline held for second with Kardashian (John Cummings Jr.) finishing third. Sudden Change N is a 7-year-old mare by Changeover. She won for the fourth time this season and secured her 20th lifetime victory. John Cummings Jr. and trainer Jenny Melander combine for three wins on the night. Cummings Jr. and Melander got wins with My Cherrie Pie ($3.00), Away My Baby ($3.60), and American Assassin ($5.50). Cummings Jr., also secured victories with Explosive Jet ($31.00), and Gold Star Aurora ($5.60) Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (May 20) with a post time of 1:00 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

LATHAM, N.Y. - A seminar for new and prospective owners will be hosted by Harness Horse Breeders of New York State and will be held at Tioga Downs in Nichols, New York. This seminar will provide valuable information for prospective or new owners and focus on all aspects of horse ownership. The seminar is scheduled for Saturday June 24th, 2018. Registration is at 9:30 and the seminar starts at 10:00 am with beverages and Danish. The seminar will include all materials, lunch, programs and live racing. The seminar will cover the rewards and risks of horse ownership, actual costs, choosing young horses or claimers and how to choose a trainer. Participants will have the opportunity to meet the Race Secretary. They will also hear from trainers and talk with successful owners. Tuition is $20 per person or $30 per couple and includes the seminar, materials, lunch, live racing, membership to HHBNYS and follow-up services. The seminar requires advance registration no later than June 20th. For more information or to register for the seminar, please call Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or e-mail info@hhbnys.com. Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

Tioga Downs has cancelled live harness racing for Friday (May 18) due to lack of entries. All classes were moved to Saturday's (May 19) card. Post time for Saturday is 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs    

Andreios Kardia (Aaron Byron) won the Tioga Downs Open Pace ($12,000) on a soggy Mothers Day Sunday (May 13). Mr Big Load (Fern Paquet Jr.) rushed out to the quick lead and covered all the early fractions (:27.0, :55.2, 1:23.2). Andreios Kardia ($7.30) went first over from fourth just after the halfway point. Owned by Ina Madill and trained by Jeff Byron, he flew by at the top of the stretch and easily held off the late charge from runner-up finisher, Doo Wop Hanover (Jim Meittinis). Chantepleure (Austin Siegelman) finished third. Andreios Kardia, who is a 7-year-old gelding by Badlands Hanover, won for the second time this season. It was his 28th career victory. Jim Taggert Jr. won three on the day. He went to the winner's circle with Bettorsluckystreak ($5.70), Fanelli Royal ($6.40), and Tarport Andy ($10.80). Tioga Downs returns to live action on Friday (May 18) at 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

Golden Son (Mike Simons) won the Open Trot ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on Saturday (May 12). Dragin The Wagon (Aaron Byron) controlled all the early fractions (:28.1, :58.1, 1:26.3). Golden Son ($2.90), who is owned by John DeVito and trained by Jenny Melander, sat in the pocket for the first three-quarters. Simons, would then go first over and wear down a stubborn Dragin The Wagon (second) to win in 1:55.2. Second Sister (Jim Meittinis) finished third.   Goldon Son is a 5-year-old gelding by Majestic Son. It was his fourth win in a row and fourth win of the season. He now has 24 career victories.   Mike Simons had three other winners. He won with Explosive Jet ($15.40), All On Black ($7.30), and Fleet Bumblebee ($9.10).   Mike Merton won four times as well. He got victories with KJ's Caroline ($10.40), Rusty's Flying ($3.10), Commentary ($4.10),and Delilah De Vie ($7.50) Tioga Downs returns to live action on Sunday (May 13) with a 10 race card starting at 1 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com<http://www.tiogadowns.com>   John Horne for Tioga Downs    

Doo Wop Hanover (Jim Meittinis) won the Tioga Downs feature pace ($9,000), on Sunday afternoon (May 6). Andreios Kardia (Aaron Byron), led the way to the first quarter mark of :28.1. Doo Wop Hanover took control right after that putting up the rest of the fractions (:56.2, 1:24.1, 1:53.1). Owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks while trained by Mike Deters, the gelding held off a late charge by Andreios Kardia (second) to secure the victory. That's My Opinion (Austin Siegelman) finished third. Doo Wop Hanover is a 7-year-old gelding by Rocknroll Hanover. He won for the third time this season and secured his 17th career victory. Aaron Byron, Drew Monti, Fern Paquet Jr., and Mike Merton all secured racing doubles on the day. Byron won with Time Out I'm Tired ($9.50), and Wild Bill M ($8.70). Monti went to the winner's circle with Crossfirehurricane ($5.30), and Feelin Lucky ($4.90). Paquet Jr., got wins with Thebestofjoel ($4.20), and Joe Larry N Curly ($6.20). Merton got victories with Rocknroll Delight ($5.90), and Stratocaster ($12.00). Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 11) with a new post time of 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne

Prairie Fortune (Jim Meittinis) won the featured trot ($12,000) at Tioga Downs on harness racing opening night (May 5). Lutetium (John Cummings Jr.) went to the lead hitting the first quarter in :28.2. Dragin The Wagon (Aaron Byron) grabbed control of the race and led going into three-quarters. Prairie Fortune ($6.10), who has been the trotter of the year at Tioga the last two years, made a first over move and took over at the top of the stretch, winning by two in the end in 1:54.1. Dragin The Wagon held the second spot with Uncle Hanover (Andy Santeramo) finishing third. Prarie Fortune, a 6-year-old gelding by Arapa Victory, is owned by Laurie Poulin and trainer Mike Deters. He picked up his fourth win of the season and notched his 41st career victory. Mike Merton won three on the day. He got wins with Tropical Trice ($9.20), Rusty's Flying ($6.00), and Party Like A Lindy ($4.10). The large opening day crowd were entertained by a fireworks display after live racing ended. Tioga Downs live racing returns on Sunday (May 5) with a 10 race card starting at 1:00 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

Tioga Downs will begin their 13th season of harness racing with a live card on "Derby Day", Saturday (May 5), with a special post time of 5:00 p.m. The celebration will include a Derby Hat contest, t-shirt and magnet giveaways. The day will also include the Edward P Maloney pipe band as well as a $1000 Derby Dream Bet Promotion. The two Dream Bet winners will receive $500 to wager on any horse in the Kentucky Derby. They will take home any winnings. The Kentucky Derby will be shown live on our large Tote board screen as well as on tv's all around Tioga Downs. A spectacular fireworks display will follow live racing. Highlights for the 2018 season include Camel and Ostrich races, as well as the debut of Weiner Dog Races. The always popular Camel and Ostrich Races, will make their return on Father's Day (June 17). The Weiner Dog races will be held on Saturday (August 11). If you think you have the fastest Dachshund in the southern tier be sure to register him or her at www.tiogadowns.com starting on May 14th, Tioga Downs will once again be the home to some of the best harness horses in the country. On Sunday, June 10th, Tioga will feature a leg of The Graduate Series ($75,000), for 4-year-old pacers and trotters. On Sunday August 12th, the five-eighths mile track in Nichols, NY, will feature the Empire Breeders Classic eliminations, with races for both 3-year-old fillies and colts. Also featured on the card it the Joie De Vie Open Mare Trot ($175,000), as well as the Crawford Farms Open Trot ($175,000). In the 2017 version of the Joie De Vie, Emoticon Hanover set a world record for 4-year-old trotting mares on a five-eighths mile track with a time of 1:50.2. She owns the overall Tioga Downs track record for all trotters as well. On Sunday August 19th, Tioga Downs will feature the Empire Breeders Classic finals with both 3-year-old pacing fillies and colts, each racing for a purse of $250,000 (Est.). Also on that day will be the Roll With Joe Open Pace ($175,000), and the Artiscape Open Mare Pace ($175,000). The all popular Million Dollar Ball Drop promotion will culminate on August 19th. The Horseplay Car Giveaway will be on closing night (September 22). The featured race this Saturday (May 5) is the Open Trot ($12,000) featuring Tioga's top trotter for both 2016 and 2017, Prairie Fortune. He is trained by the top trainer of 2017, Mike Deters. Deters won the training title with 29 wins. Patti Harmon was second with 24 victories, followed by Tony Dinges (23), Gary Messenger (23), and Joe Skowyra (20). Mike Simons was the driving champion in 2017 with 74 wins. Jim Taggart Jr, was second with 55 wins. Jim Meittinis and Mike Merton tied for third with 53 victories each. Aaron Byron rounded out the top five with 46 trips to the winner's circle. The 11 race card begins at 5:00 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns .com John Horne for Tioga Downs

When Tioga Downs Casino Resort opens for the 2018 harness racing season on Saturday (May 5), the fans and horsemen will enjoy an enhanced experience. The brand new hotel features 161 rooms and suites. Many of the rooms are facing the gorgeous racetrack with the Susquehanna River in the distance. The hotel offers a fitness center as well as an indoor heated salt water pool and hot tub. Horsemen can enjoy a discounted rate of $89.99. Reservations can be made through the race office at 607-699-7688. When summer hits the whole family can enjoy an outdoor water slide with plunge pool as well as an outdoor Cabana Bar and outdoor pool. Guests can visit AgeLess Spa for a couples massage and more before hitting the track or casino floor for an exciting day or night of fun. Also new for 2018 is P. J. Clarke's restaurant with breakfast available Monday through Saturday and dinner available seven days a week. Enjoy fresh food , frosty drinks and old fashioned conversation. On opening day (May 5), live racing has a special post time of 5p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

Tioga Downs Stall Applications and Stake Payments are due on March 15th Stall applications and stake payments for the 2018 Racing Season at Tioga Downs are due Thursday, March 15th. This includes payments for all the major races at Tioga. The 3 year old Empire Breeders Classic sustaining payment; the 2 year old Empire Breeders Classic payment to make your NY bred foal eligible to the 2019 race; and the first of two payments to our Older Horses and Mare events, the Crawford Farms Open Trot, the Joie De Vie Open Mare Trot, the Artiscape Open Mare Pace and the Roll With Joe Open Horse Pace. Applications and nomination forms are available on the Tioga Racing page, use the following link for access: https://www.tiogadowns.com/racing/horsemen/. Downs will begin its 2018 Race Meet on Saturday, May 5th. Please call the Race Office with any questions, 607-7688. John Horne for Tioga Downs.              

Jason Settlemoir (Regional VP, Racing and Simulcast) announced that Garrett Madison has been named Regional Racing Marketing Manager for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Madison, a graduate of Owego Free Academy, started with the company as a Mutual Teller in 2011. He eventually became the Regional Racing Operations Manager, a position he held for the last four years. The Apalachin native will be responsible for all marketing of racing, including creating all of the advertising with different kinds of media. He will also be responsible for all racing promotions done at both tracks, among many other duties. Settlemoir said, "It has been a pleasure watching Garrett grow with the company in every position he has held. We feel his hard work and dedication will help him thrive in his new position." Jason Bluhm (Sr Regional Director of Racing Tioga Downs & Vernon Downs) also praised Madison. "Garrett is a great worker, I've put a lot on his plate these past few years and he's handled everything brilliantly. It's a well-deserved promotion." Said Bluhm. Madison, who recently purchased a new home with his partner, Erinn Gahring, in Campville, NY, said "I grew up racing Motocross. When I got the chance to work in the Harness Racing Industry, it seemed like a natural fit." " I love the competitive nature and the hard work that goes into it." Madison said that Jason Bluhm and Jason Settlemoir have taught him so much about the sport of harness racing. "They (Bluhm and Settlemoir) are so passionate about the sport." "All that rubs off, it has helped to make me fall in love with harness racing." "I can't thank them enough." Madison added "I love going to work every day with all the great people at both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. I look forward to the challenge of my new job and can't wait to get started." Madison's main office will remain at Tioga Downs but he will commute to both locations throughout the year. John Horne for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs

Jeff Gural doesn’t just own Tioga Downs Casino Resort. He’s the chief executive greeter. His uniform: blue jeans, orange Crocs and an open-neck, collared dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves. Gural, 75, a blunt, affable Nassau County native with an edge sharpened from five decades in high-stakes New York real estate development, is a fixture at his resort-casino in Nichols, midway between Elmira and Binghamton. He and his lenders recently plowed $160 million into converting the property from a racino to a true “destination resort” 30 miles south of the Finger Lakes. Now, he asks visitors what would keep them coming back for harness racing, eight eateries and bars, 32 poker tables, 950 slot machines, a 161-room hotel, golf and other attractions. Gural wonders how Tioga can boost gaming revenue, which recently fell 25 percent short of the casino’s $100 million year-one projection. Come Feb. 8, Empire Resorts’ executives will face a similarly daunting competitive challenge as they open Resorts World Catskills in a crowded, cutthroat Northeast gaming market. The $920 million, 1.6-million-square-foot, five-star casino and entertainment complex has an optimistic $277 million year-one gross gaming revenue projection. But that number is realistic if the project dazzles and draws heavily from the New York City area, said Clyde Barrow, a gaming expert at Pyramid Associates of Westport, Mass. With 2,157 slot machines and 150 table games on a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor, the Town of Thompson property will be New York’s 25th commercial or Indian gaming licensee. Resorts World Catskills, which will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, joins a lineup of venues featuring horse racing, casino gaming, video lottery terminals and off-track betting. It will be New York’s 10th casino, including six Indian locations. Shortly after Resorts World Catskills debuts, the Oneida Nation will open the 11th, Point Place, in Madison County near Syracuse. Twenty-five years ago, scant gambling competition existed in the Northeast, until the Oneida opened Turning Stone in Verona five years after the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allowed federally recognized tribes to open gaming venues. Today, the list of luxurious casino-resorts and gaming options continues to grow throughout the Northeast, as every state except Vermont now has gambling options. Pennsylvania alone has 12 casinos. Two new casinos are planned in Atlantic City, N.J., even after market saturation led five of the city’s casinos to close from 2014 to 2016. And several new and expanded casino-resorts are planned over the next two years, including the bar-raising $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor due next year. “There’s no question the market is saturated,” said Moody’s analyst Keith Foley of casinos in upstate New York. “Market saturation is like a game of musical chairs. At some point, there will be no place left for more gaming.” Statewide, New York falls far below the saturation levels for areas of the country considered full, such as the Tunica-Lula area of Mississippi and the St. Louis market, according to statistical modeling that Barrow performed for the Times Herald-Record. Barrow’s analysis also found that New York officials awarding gaming licenses in 2015 and 2016 misplaced the first four non-Indian casinos in cash-strapped, customer-short upstate areas with limited demand and spending power when they could have allowed one or two easily profitable projects in or near New York City. “What we’re doing isn’t easy,” said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of Empire Resorts, which is building Resorts World Catskills. “If you’re closer (to New York City), you can hit that same revenue number with less investment and less risk. This isn’t a layup. It’s a heck of a lot of investment and risk.” Resorts World Catskills’ operators hope to capture gamers of all ages with gaming and amenities they say are on par with Las Vegas and Macau. The project features an 18-story, 332-suite luxury hotel; a 2,000-seat event center for fights, conferences and concerts; and more than 10 bars and restaurants like an Italian steakhouse by celebrity chef Scott Conant. Subsequent plans include a mid-market boutique hotel, along with 15,000 square feet of additional retail, food and beverage space, due in the fourth quarter of this year. Nearby, the $150 million-plus Kartrite indoor, family water park and hotel is being developed by Pennsylvania’s Camelback Resort co-owners Ken Ellis and Arthur Berry III. It’s due by spring 2019. And golfers will tee off at Resorts World Catskills’ revamped golf course by mid-2019. Odds of success Resorts World Catskills’ leaders say their “comprehensive integrated resort” model will succeed because of the property’s quality and proximity within two hours of New York City. But given the glut of upstate gaming, the casino’s gross gaming revenues will be the real gauge of its success. To be healthy in year one, the casino must earn a daily average of at least $228 to $246 for each of its 2,157 slot machines and a minimum of $1,517 to $1,770 per table game, according to the Record’s calculations based on the project’s state license application data and consultations with gaming industry experts. In year three, after full build out, Resorts World Catskills expects its gross gaming revenues to grow to $301.6 million – meaning average daily earnings of $249 to $268 per slot machine and $1,652 to $1,928 per table game, based on the casino’s current number of slot machines and table games. To put those totals in perspective, the giant northeast Connecticut casino Mohegan Sun averaged $411 per slot machine each day in fiscal year 2006-07, when it had little competition, according to data collected by Connecticut. Around the same time, when Atlantic City’s casinos were still dominant, most averaged daily per table earnings between $2,200 and $3,000, Barrow said. New York’s three new casinos have fallen far short of those standards, as well as their own projections. Through the end of December, Tioga Downs averaged just $170 per machine per day, according to the New York State Gaming Commission. Del Lago Resort and Casino, in Waterloo between Rochester and Syracuse, earned $150, and Schenectady’s Rivers Casino Resort took in $209. Table-game revenue was even worse for Tioga Downs and Del Lago. Between April and December 2017, Tioga Downs averaged $873 per table game daily, del Lago, $1,346 and Rivers, $2,041. Signs of market cannibalization are appearing, too, according to a new casino saturation report by Moody’s, which predicted “Resorts World will be entering a very tough gaming market” in upstate New York. Although Del Lago and Rivers have expanded the overall gaming revenue market, they’ve also taken big chunks of revenue from nearby competitors like Finger Lakes Gaming and Vernon Downs, Moody’s found. Barrow’s analysis also showed competing upstate casinos’ gaming revenues have been cannibalized. “It’s a good thing that we didn’t have the right projections, because probably all three of the casinos wouldn’t have been built if we had the accurate information,” Gural said. “I think (the consultants) were using formulas that didn’t fully take into account the saturation factor.” Moody’s Foley recently downgraded debt for Del Lago to a rating of Caa2 or “very weak creditworthiness,” with a “negative” outlook for future ratings. It is on track to earn $150 million in gross gaming revenue instead of the $250 million Moody’s expected. Foley and the other experts interviewed for this article aren’t yet questioning if New York’s new casinos will survive, but they say it remains to be seen if they will gross enough gaming revenues to thrive. “From what states is (Resorts World Catskills) going to be taking people from?” asked Father Richard McGowan, a Boston College management professor specializing in gaming. “Let’s face it, no one will be coming from New Jersey or New England to go there. ... Good luck.” Politics over profits Resorts World Catskills’ leaders will rely on the New York City metropolitan area to supply most of its customer base. They’re also betting the casino will attract “whales” or big-time gamblers, particularly from the Far East, via its upmarket amenities. In line with industry standards, Resorts World Catskills expects to give away seven in 10 luxury hotel rooms to high rollers. The casino also is targeting Asian gamers in general with a gaming area designed for them. If Resorts World Catskills underperforms, it’ll be because of politics, gaming industry experts said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sold a 2013 referendum to amend New York’s Constitution to permit more gaming as a way to bring jobs and investment to economically disadvantaged upstate areas. “These (new casinos) have been extremely successful from an economic development standpoint, creating all of the jobs promised,” said Gural, who added that he’s not ungrateful for his Tioga Downs license. “The real losers are the owners of the casinos who are not making the profit” they anticipated. Kevin Law, who chaired the state board that selected the upstate casino sites, was not available for an interview. “New York went into this regional resort-casino market long after that trend had been exhausted in this country,” Barrow said. “Globally, the trend is big mega-casinos in major cities. They should have just put a big one in New York City to be better positioned to compete against other forms of entertainment and to attract customers who don’t want drive 90 miles.” Building casinos in urban centers helps entice gamers of all ages, unlike the upstate New York market, where casinos are cannibalizing each other’s older customers, said S&P Global Ratings analyst Timothy Little. “Millennials tend to move toward larger population and urban centers, away from some of the more rural parts of the state where New York’s casinos are,” said Little, who co-authored a recent report on Northeast casino saturation. “It’s unclear to what extent these (New York gaming) facilities will draw consumers living in other states and abroad.” Sullivan County’s soon-to-open casino, located on 1,700 acres of the former Concord Resort property, is $600 million less expensive and twice as far from New York City as a failed 2014 Tuxedo bid would have been. Like Resorts World Catskills, the Tuxedo application came from Malaysian-Chinese casino magnate K.T. Lim. He also financially rescued Resorts World Catskills’ parent, Monticello Raceway owner Empire Resorts, from a potential bankruptcy in 2009 after it lost $38.4 million in 2007 and 2008, according to public filings. And he’s kept it afloat since. Lim is a key part of the family trust that owns Kien Huat Realty, an investment company that is the majority shareholder in Empire Resorts and Genting Berhad. The latter is part of the Genting Group, a $37 billion Malaysian gaming, biotech and palm oil conglomerate. Under a branding agreement with Genting, Sullivan County’s casino is using Genting’s “Resorts World” name, though it’s technically not a Genting casino. Colossal casino competition Although a 2014 Tuxedo casino proposal faced controversy for its potential effects on Sterling Forest, gaming experts said a site closer to New York City would’ve been assured success. Eller agreed. Resorts World Catskills “would be a hell of a lot easier if we were closer to our core market,” of New York City, said Eller, 42, who led the Tuxedo project’s application before taking Empire Resorts’ helm last year. A former Marine major, a Harvard MBA, and a 12-year gaming industry veteran, Eller is overseeing a 1,400-employee Resorts World Catskills entertainment complex that will eventually grow to 2,200 workers and $1.2 billion. That’ll occur by the end of 2019, when the $150 million-plus, 600-employee Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark opens. Regardless of location, for new casino properties like Resorts World Catskills to succeed, they must diversify well beyond gaming, said David G. Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “Once you could just put out quarter slot machines, but that’s not enough,” Schwartz said. “So, now they have to put much more emphasis on dining and entertainment options.” That’s exactly what Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have done. Foxwoods’ Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, and Mario Kontomerkos, CEO of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, said they’ve had to expand their amenities to remain competitive over the past decade. As the Northeast has grown more competitive, each casino has taken giant revenue hits since fiscal 2006-07, when Mohegan Sun raked in $916.4 million in slots revenue and Foxwoods brought home $805.5 million. By 2016-17, those totals had fallen to $602.3 million and $457.5 million, respectively, according to state of Connecticut data. Las Vegas model The two tribes pioneered the Las Vegas model in the Northeast. With funding from K.T. Lim’s father, Lim Goh Tong, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe heavily built up Foxwoods in Ledyard, Conn., in 1992 and ’93. Nearby, the Mohegan Tribe developed Mohegan Sun in Uncasville three years later. Northeast competitors have mushroomed ever since to emulate the Connecticut casinos’ success. To remain relevant, Connecticut’s casinos have morphed into cities unto themselves. With 9 million square feet, Foxwoods is larger than the Pentagon, and just 340,000 square feet is reserved for gaming. The rest goes toward dining, lodging, retail and recreational options. Mohegan Sun’s similar-size gaming floor is complemented by two luxury hotel towers totaling 1,563 rooms, a 10,000-seat arena, 275,000 square feet of meeting and function space and more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges. Foxwoods has “put over $3 billion in the ground over 25 years, and it’s probably closer to $5 billion adjusted for inflation,” Butler said. “We know the (Lim) family well, and Resorts World Catskills will be a great property,” he added. “They’re brilliant operators, and the partnership with the (Kartrite) indoor water park is a great idea. But our market has shifted (to New England), so we’re not too concerned with what you’re doing in the Catskills.” Given how different Northeast casinos are, it’s simplistic to ask whether the casino market is saturated, said Jeremy Kleiman, a veteran New Jersey gaming lawyer. Foxwoods’ and Mohegan Sun’s leaders agreed. They say they’re in an elite class competing for whales. Or as Mohegan Sun’s Kontomerkos put it, “Walmarts compete against Walmarts and Nordstroms compete against Nordstroms.” At Resorts World Catskills, Eller too aspires to create a “destination resort casino” full of amenities, as opposed to the convenience gaming offered by racinos like Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Yet even without table games, that Queens property – owned by K.T. Lim under his Genting Berhad umbrella – could compete with Resorts World Catskills. Resorts World Casino New York City averages a strong $404 in revenue per day for each slot machine, and Lim is currently expanding the New York City complex by $400 million, adding a hotel, restaurants, retail and more slots. To help Resorts World Catskills succeed, Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president and CEO of the Sullivan Catskills tourism bureau, plans to aggressively market the property as “a full-fledged, full-service, four-season, multi-attraction destination casino, appealing not only to New York and other states, but also to international visitors, and those from the Pacific Rim.” Marc Baez, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, touted the same marketing approach. He said Resorts World Catskills will thrive by building on the Catskills’ history of resorts, while capitalizing on local assets like Bethel Woods, the planned Town of Goshen Legoland and the future Yo1 Lifestyle Wellness Resort in Monticello. “We’ll pretty much have something to do for everybody,” Baez said. Eller is the first to admit his won’t be the biggest, highest-earning casino in the Northeast. But he said it has “the right investment and strategy as an integrated resort and the right revenue estimates” to create new gaming receipts beyond merely cannibalizing existing regional totals. Like Gural, who owns Tioga Downs, Eller said Resorts World Catskills’ success will be “built on relationships, and that has nothing to do with the distance,” because high-rollers have the means to travel most anywhere. But there is at least one key difference between the two casino leaders. Eller is more likely to greet whales in a power suit than orange Crocs and jeans. “Are people from the New York metro area going to drive 90 to 100 miles to go play table games” at Resorts World Catskills? Eller asked. “The reality is they already do, they go to Atlantic City. They go to Connecticut. They go to Vegas.” “We’re built on a Las Vegas casino model where there’s entertainment all the time,” Eller added. “You should feel like you’re stepping into a casino in Las Vegas.” By Daniel Axelrod  Reprinted with permission of The Times Herald-Record

NICHOLS, N.Y. - What started as gaming machines and harness racing and then a full-fledge casino, Tioga Downs has completed its journey to become a resort destination. A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony was held Friday for the new hotel at Tioga Downs, making it the Tioga Downs Casino and Resort. The six-story 161-room hotel includes a full-service AgeLess Spa, fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, two rooftop decks, an events center with banquet and reception that can accommodate 400 people. In addition, the hotel has a PJ Clarke's Restaurant serving burgers in a speakeasy-style atmosphere. Owner Jeff Gural says he wants people near and far to enjoy all the amenities the new hotel has to offer. "It's beautiful.  Hopefully we'll be able to accomplish our goal to make it a resort for people from outside the are who are visiting Corning Glass, Watkins Glen or the wineries.  Now, they have a beautiful resort to stay at," said Gural. Gural thanked the community along with the many legislators and lawmakers in attendance for supporting his endeavor, especially when Del Lago was chosen as the Southern Tier casino location. The conference center will hold its first event tomorrow with a fundraiser for the United Way. Reprinted with permission of The Binghamton News  

Closing night for the 2017 harness racing season was highlighted by the New York Sire Stakes for sophomore pacing colts and geldings at Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 16). In the first division ($61,300) Henry Hill (Marcus Miller) would rundown the favorite Outkast Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) in the stretch for the victory. Ideal Wheel (Jim Taggart Jr.) would charge out to the lead and bring them to a first quarter in :26.1. Outkast Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven) would then make his move taking over just before the half and control the half at :54.2 and three-quarters in 1:22.0. Henry Hill (Roll With Joe) would go first over and take over at the top of the stretch. Owned by Tom Hill and trained by Tony Alagna, the 3 year-old would battle Outkast Blue Chip (second) all the way down the stretch to win by a head in a lifetime best of 1:50.1. Outrajus Blue Chip (Jim Meittinis) would finish third. Henry Hill ($6.80), who didn't race as a 2 year-old, won for the third time in four starts. In the second division ($62,400), Cultural Paradise (Jim Morrill Jr.) would pop out of the pocket to get the victory in the stretch. Pointomygranson (Jim Marohn Jr.) laid down all the early fractions :27.1, :56.0, 1:23.1. Cultural Paradise (Americal Ideal) was content to ride in the pocket all the way to the stretch. Owned by Bradley Grant and trained by Larry Remmen, the 3 year-old surged to the front and just got by Pointomygranson (second) to win in a lifetime best of 1:51.3. Third place went to Serious Major (Jim Taggart Jr.) Cutural Paradise ($5.60), got win number six on the season and notched career victory number nine. Mike Deters was the top trainer for 2017. Mike Simons was the top driver this season. Pacer of the year was Andreios Kardia. Top trotter was Prairie Fortune. Fireworks followed the live racing. Tioga Downs wants to thank all the horsemen and fans for a great 2017 season. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne      

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