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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Vernon Downs to postpone opening day of racing due to dispute with New York State over taxation

Racino requesting tax relief amid increased casino competition

Vernon, N.Y. – April 13, 2017 – Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, announced today that he will be delaying the opening day of racing at Vernon Downs amid significant financial losses due to the added competition from Yellow Brick Road, Lago and Rivers.  Final preparations are currently underway at Vernon Downs to open the 64th season of live harness racing, which was set for Friday, April 21.  However, increased competition from the addition of these three casinos 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.

“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.  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.  A tax break for Vernon Downs would not cost the taxpayers any money as taxes from gaming revenue lost from Vernon are currently being generated at our four main competitors in the region.  Worse yet, including the horsemen, Vernon has the highest tax rate of its competitors.  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 and continue to be an asset within the community.  Since reopening Vernon as a racino in 2006 we have given almost $150 million to the State for education.  My hope is that New York State will step to the plate to save the three hundred jobs of those that Vernon Downs currently employs in addition to all the jobs and benefits related to racing,” commented Jeff Gural.

Vernon Downs has confirmed that the property will open racing once it becomes clear that relief from the State of New York is going to be granted.  The racino is hopeful that locally elected officials will weigh in and convince the legislature to act quickly to help save the hundreds of jobs currently at risk.

In addition to its video lottery terminals, Vernon Downs offers live harness racing, concerts and other entertainment. Jeff Gural owns Vernon Downs in Vernon, NY and Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY.  In the last decade, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have created more than 1,000 family-sustaining jobs. For more information on Vernon Downs, please visit