Blood Horse By
Tom LaMarra

A report done for the New York Gaming Association says the organization’s members—nine racetrack casinos in the state—generate almost $2 billion a year in “economic output,” with support for horse racing and breeding accounting for $368 million a year.

The analysis, conducted by New York City-based Appleseed, was released by the gaming association Feb. 16. New York’s racetrack casinos are currently making their case for expanded gambling or, if they don’t get it, protection from any new casinos in the state.

The report states that in 2010-11, before the opening of the Resorts World New York Casino at Aqueduct, video lottery terminals took in $13.34 billion in bets, up 509% over a seven-year period.

“As illustrated by this report, the nine racetrack casinos that comprise the New York Gaming Association have a proven track record in creating jobs, bolstering funding for education, supporting the racing and breeding industry, and assisting local governments,” said James Featherstonhaugh, the president of the association who is affiliated with Saratoga Casino & Raceway. “For years, NYGA members have been trusted partners in their communities who have provided quality racing and gaming to visitors in a responsible manner. “Upon the approval of the table games amendment, our members are ready to create thousands of jobs immediately in construction and thousands more permanent jobs upon completion of the construction phase, as well as generate new revenues for education and provide additional support for the racing and breeding industry.”

The Appleseed report estimates that at the end of 2011, racetrack casinos in New York were producing an “annualized” net win of $1.76 billion: $830.5 million for state government; $423 million for racetrack casino operators; $179.8 million for horse racing and breeding, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred; $176.7 million for administration of VLTs and related gaming; $141 million for marketing; and $15.8 million for the New York Lottery Division to make capital improvements. The report says the nine racetrack casinos account for 17,400 jobs, 5,431 of them representing direct employment by the racetrack casinos. Wages and salaries totaled more than $855 million, including $141.3 million from those employed directly by New York Gaming Association members. The facilities supported 4,724 jobs for the racing and breeding industry, the report states.

Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack, the first Thoroughbred track to have VLTs when its gaming facility opened in 2004, issued a separate release saying the facility generates more than $74 million for the western New York region and the state and provides almost 1,800 full and part-time jobs. Finger Lakes offers more than 160 days of live racing a year from early spring through late fall. “This report illustrates that we have been a positive economic engine for our region in both job creation and economic input to the local economy,” Finger Lakes president and general manager Chris Riegle said. “In the eight years since the addition of gaming to the property, we have been able to annually grow our economic impact within the community and statewide on an annual basis.

“We look forward to providing additional jobs and revenues with the potential enhancement of gaming at our location and the other racetrack locations throughout New York State.” Members of the gaming association are Batavia Downs Casino; Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway; Empire Resorts at Monticello Casino & Raceway; Finger Lakes; Hamburg Casino at the Fairgrounds, also called Buffalo Raceway; Resorts World Casino New York at Aqueduct; Saratoga Casino & Raceway; Tioga Downs Casino; and Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel.