Shortened Season Facing Vernon & Tioga Downs

By Ben Hamill - August 19 2020
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Shortened Season Facing Vernon & Tioga Downs

Prominent New York horse-racing enthusiast and racetracks owner Jeff Gural says there is major economic trouble afoot for his Tioga Downs Casino Resort and Vernon Downs Casino Hotel.

Without active casino operations, Gural has now pointed out in as many words, there simply isn’t enough money left to sustain the two racetracks and their respective horse racing activities and competitions. And it’s a challenge, if not resolved with immediate effect, Gural says will cost the local horse racing industry the remainder of the 2020 racing season.

If no real solutions can be found, Gural estimates that he will have to pull the plug on the 2020 horse racing season by as early as mid-September.

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Racetracks Rely On Racinos

The very reason track-side casinos, or “racinos”, were first legalised in the Big Apple, was to support the local horse racing industry. Gaming revenue is the main source of income to many a horse racing venue, and revenue most horse racing competitions aren’t able to do without.

But since all casinos, Bingo halls, and gaming venues have been closed since mid-March so as to abide by government health and safety guidelines and restrictions, racetracks such as those located at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have had to make do without the bottom-line supporting income typically offered by racinos.

The ongoing closures, though necessary, have taken a major toll on the horse racing industries in many countries and regions, with those located in New York State having drawn a particularly short straw due to the on-again off-again rise in infections.

September The End Of Season

If no practical solution can be found to the challenges now facing the two New York horse racing venues, Gural says he expects that he will have to call a halt on all live races by September 13. This effectively means that the last live races to be hosted by Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs will be run on September 12 and September 13, respectively.

While Tioga Downs was originally scheduled to host its final race event for the year on September 19, Vernon Downs, what with its final race-day originally planned for November 7, stands out to lose much more substantially.

Government, in the meantime, has not yet offered indication as to when casinos and gaming halls can expect to be permitted to reopen their doors to the public. The longer commercial casinos and racinos remain closed, explained Gural, the more precarious the pulling off of a successful 2021 horse racing reason is going to be for local New York racetracks.

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