New York Daily News

The Aqueduct racino raked in $252.7 million in net revenue for the fiscal year ALBANY— New York’s virtual casinos saw revenues jump nearly 30% in the previous fiscal year — with a big boost coming from the opening of the racino at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.

The continued success of the nine racinos comes as the state debates whether to legalize full-blown casino gambling.

“I don’t think (legalizing casinos) will be easy under any circumstance, but the revenue numbers support everything we’ve been saying about the industry and about our projections,” said James Featherstonhaugh president of the New York Gaming Association.

The nine racinos located throughout the state recorded $1.43 billion in net revenue during the fiscal year that ended March 31, according to new state Lottery Division figures.

That’s up 29% from the $1.1 billion the racinos pulled in during the previous fiscal year.

The Aqueduct racino, which opened last October, made $252.7 million in net revenue. That’ s more in six months than all but one of the other eight racinos raked in for the full 12 months.

In March alone, the Aqueduct facility’s net revenue reached $59 million.

A coalition comprised of ownership from the nine racinos is pushing for the state to allow them to convert their operations into casinos. The Aqueduct racino’s operator, Resorts World Genting, says its performance shows the revenue for the state that is at stake.

“New York has been losing billions in revenue to other states until now,” Genting spokesman Stefan Friedman said of the racino in a statement to the Daily News Monday.

The racinos offer video slot machine parlors and certain electronic table games, like baccarat and roulette.

But other table games of skill, such as poker and blackjack, are still outlawed.

Gov. Cuomo has pushed for legalization of casino gambling, saying it already takes place in New York, where there are multiple Indian-run casinos upstate.

The Legislature last month took the first step toward legalizing casino gambling by giving the first of two needed legislative approvals for a constitutional amendment. The amendment would authorize the creation of seven casinos, but it does not specify where they would be sited.

Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have said they are open to the idea of a single casino in a non-densely populated area of the city, such as the Aqueduct site in South Ozone Park, Queens. In order to move forward, the Legislature must pass the amendment a second time before putting the issue up for a public referendum.

Racino owners say the success of the facilities in the past fiscal year pumped nearly $667 million into education, since 47% of the net gross legally must be given over to the state to fund the school system.