Absent controversial Las Vegas racino investor Shawn Scott, Vernon Downs, the upstate New York harness racetrack, is going forward with a live race meeting to begin on April 23.
Complying with an edict from the N.Y. Racing and Wagering Board that Scott, who was denied a racing license, had to step aside, permitting the track’s operators to hire former N.J. regulator and racetrack operator Dennis Dowd as its interim general manager.
Commenting on recent developments, Dowd announced that, "we’re going to try to do something that apparently hasn’t been done here for a while, and that’s have a real good opening. I think, if we have enough time and all pitch in, we can get it done."
Still sitting idle is a $3.6 million building that is prepared to house several hundred video lottery machines. The facility can’t open until the track operators are granted a second license that will permit the track to become the state’s fourth racino to begin generating gaming revenues. It has been estimated that VLTs at Vernon Downs, located about 35 miles from Syracuse, could provide the state with some $80 million in slots revenue.
Asked about the machines, Dowd said the track officials had submitted the necessary paperwork for the gaming license and expected to have an answer by August. He was quick to add that without slots revenue the track could not possibly continue to operate.