Tioga Downs Casino Resort and Vernon Downs Casino Hotel are facing tough times due to the uncertainty ahead of them. Owner Jeff Gural recently pointed out that there is no purse money left for the two racetracks without casino operation and they will have to cut short the 2020 racing season mid-September.
Gaming revenue is one of the main engines of the horse racing industry of New York, as the racinos adjacent to the horse racetracks of the state have been showing their support for years. Now various health measures and restrictions, along with the lack of permission of in-person gaming has put the gaming and horse racing field at risk. The two racing hotspots will have to close earlier than projected.
Purse Money Runs Out
Purse money is the thing the horse racetracks rely on and they have been funded by the gaming revenue generated both at Tioga Downs Casino and Vernon Downs Casino in the past. Both locations are closed and they have been so ever since mid-March and this period has taken its toll on the horse racing purses.
Mr. Gural recently stated that the two racetracks will have to bring their live racing season to a conclusion on September 13. The last weekend that is expected to see live races at Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs will be September 12 and 13. This reduction of the 2020 live season is considered the only possible scenario at this point. It should be taken into account that Tioga Downs was originally scheduled to see the end of its season on September 19.
In the meantime, Vernon Downs was supposed to see its last live race take place on November 7. In its case, the reduction of live race is more substantial and individuals willing to watch live horse racing and wager on it are going to be deprived of this opportunity in the second half of September and the entire October.
Purse Money Run Dry
It is all preparation for the worst-case scenario, as the government has not revealed when casinos and racinos will be allowed to reopen. Mr. Gural stated that the current situation makes it impossible for neither of the two racetracks to continue hosting live events past the September 13 point. If the government gives its nod to in-person gaming, things might change for the better.
Ahead of the lockdown in March, both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs were supposed to see three days of live races per week, but the unprecedented situation led to their reduction to only two days per week. Mr. Gurall said that he had an initial plan for action to close both locations after Labor Day, but September 11 is going to be an important date.
This is when Tioga Downs is expected to approve the host of the Excelsior Series, as the Final is set to take place then. He pointed out that the longer commercial casinos and racinos remain closed, the harder 2021 live racing season is going to be for all horse racetracks of New York State.