Industry Reports

NYS Harness Racetracks See Better Days Despite Rumors

Tioga Downs Casino Resort and Vernon Downs have no plans of closing for business on October 1, regardless of the information pointing towards such intention for the fall months of this year. Jeff Gural, owner of the two hotspots recently made a clarification that this would not be the case and the two racetracks will continue their operation in the foreseeable future.

The two racetracks associated with great horse racing are not planning to go out of business anytime soon, as their owner made it clear. New York State’s horse racing industry will not lose two of its racetrack over the fall months, as some rumors suggested earlier this month. They were based on a WARN notice filed with the State of New York.

WARN Notices

Over the past four months, neither of the two racetracks along with many more across New York State have had the chance to operate on a daily basis, as the unprecedented situation made physical distancing mandatory. Horse people associated with Tioga Downs Casino Resort and Vernon Downs were deprived of live horse races taking place there and of the purses coming with them.

People interested in horse racing were also unable to wager on the events. For the time being, the two hotspots have not been given the green light to in-person gaming and operation. June 26 was a special date for the two locations. That day witnessed the official opening of hotel towers adjacent to the entertainment complexes. Gov. Cuomo made it clear, this reopening of commercial locations will have to be postponed to a later date.

Last week, rumors that Tioga Downs is preparing for the official closure of business surfaced. About 900 employees associated with both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs were allegedly facing letting go at the beginning of October if the State of New York does not allow the business to reopen anytime soon.

Uncertainty Still Exists

Mr. Gural pointed out that the WARN notice field on July 13 with the state is what stirred the pot and triggered the rumor mill. The Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law has to be respected when a company goes out of business, a process that includes the sending of WARN notices. However, this is not the case with the two racetracks, that received a green light for live racing without spectators but not for casino gaming.

Their owner clarified that the paperwork was needed because of the previous furlough of staff members that happened back at the beginning of lockdown. Six months following that they will have to be terminated, the particular date being September 30. The owner also stated that the lack of casino gaming is taking its toll on the two hotspots at the moment.

For the time being they are able to stay afloat, but he is unsure of how much longer he could keep Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs in business with solely horse racing allowed. Recently it became clear that their hotel venues will have to once again close for business and cease to accept bookings.