Vernon Downs to delay start of live harness racing at the facility

Apr 14, 2017 8:56 AM

The owner of the racino at Vernon Downs in upstate New York says he is delaying the start of live harness racing at the facility.

Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, said competition from the addition of three casinos in the region with table games has taken revenue away from the property and caused Vernon to be losing on average about $150,000 per month since November.

 Vernon Downs was to open its 64th season of live harness racing on Friday, April 21.

Gural said, “It is extremely unfortunate but we have no other choice than to postpone the opening day of racing at Vernon Downs. The property loses money on racing so opening racing now only makes a bad situation worse.”

He continued, “We have requested tax relief from New York State and in meetings with the Governor's office it seemed they understood the problem and were prepared to act. Unfortunately, the legislature did not give it the priority it deserved.”

According to Gural, lowering the tax rate is a way that New York can ensure that properties like Vernon Downs that do not have table games can remain competitive. Vernon Downs officials has confirmed that the property will open racing once it becomes clear that relief from the State of New York is going to be forthcoming.

In addition to its video lottery terminals, Vernon Downs offers live harness racing, concerts and other entertainment. Gural owns Vernon Downs in Vernon, NY and Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY. He also owns the racing operation at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.