January 13, 2011

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Racinos call on state to “stop the clock” on casino compact

Empire Resorts, owner of Monticello Casino and Raceway,
and the operators of three other racinos, say the compact
and land settlement should be reevaluated

MONTICELLO – The operators of the racinos in New York are calling on the state’s top officials to “stop the clock” on the proposed Wisconsin Stockbridge-Munsee casino proposal in the Town of Thompson.

The operators of Empire Resorts, Inc./Monticello Casino and Raceway, Empire City/Yonkers Raceway, Resorts World New York, Fingerlakes Racing Association, Buffalo Trotting Association, and Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, said the land settlement and compact inked by former Governor David Paterson in the final weeks of his administration “poses significant, negative budgetary impacts for New York State that should be carefully reevaluated.” They said the current state administration should withdraw the compact and inform the US Department of Interior it no longer supports it.

The Interior Department has a 45-day time period in which it must rule one way or another on the proposed casino.

“There has not been any consideration given to how an out-of-state Tribe’s off-reservation casino would negatively impact New York racino jobs, as well as racino financial contributions to the New York State education and local economies,” said Charles Degliomini, executive vice president of Empire Resorts. “Commercial racinos, taxed at a blended rate of about 60 percent, cannot compete with an out-of-state Indian casino, which pays zero percent tax on table games and up to a mere 25 percent for slot machines. Moreover, it is astonishing to realize that, even after signing their own compact years ago, presently no Tribe in New York is making any casino revenue payments to New York State, exacerbating our New York State budget deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The letter from the racino operators, signed by James Featherstonhaugh, said an Indian casino 10 minutes from Monticello racino “would result in the near-certain closure” of the racino, and take away higher-end and weekend customers from Yonkers, Resorts World New York and Saratoga racinos.

Vele, left, then-governor David Paterson, signed the compact
in Monticello on November 22

Stockbridge-Munsee Chief Kimberly Vele, meanwhile, said the “driving force in opposing the proposed Stockbridge-Munsee casino resort is nothing more than a desire to eliminate perceived competition.”

Vele also said the company selected to operate a racino at Aqueduct Raceway – the Malaysian-based Genting New York – owns nearly 50 percent of Empire Resorts.”

Featherstonhaugh said coming on top of the closure of New York City OTB, the opening of the Sullivan County casino “may well spell the end of the New York racing industry.”

The racino officials request the new state government launch a comprehensive economic analysis to confirm whether or not the state can sustain “the significant negative financial and employment impacts.”

But, Vele said the total economic impact for Sullivan County and other counties in the region would be $715.6 million with the total economic impact for the state pegged at $925.9 million.


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