|Location||4229 Stuhlman Rd.
Vernon, New York
|Owned by||American Racing and Entertainment LLC|
|Date opened||July 1, 1953|
|Race type||Harness racing|
Vernon Downs is a horse racing track, racino and entertainment facility located in the town of Vernon in central New York. The track was established in 1953 but, as tastes changed, its attendance and revenues decreased. It has added simulcast harness racing, video gaming, and entertainment, in addition to building a 173-suite hotel.
The harness racing track was opened in 1953 near Syracuse, New York, and operated successfully for many years. As tastes changed in the late 20th century, attendance declined. At the same time, the state authorized forms of gambling to raise money. Beginning in the 1980s, Native American tribes began to establish bingo halls on their reservations and later, gaming casinos to generate revenues.
Racetracks applied to add gaming to their venues to increase traffic and revenues. Vernon Downs added simulcast harness racing, on which bets could be placed, and video gaming. Some, like Vernone Downs, also began to host entertainment acts, particularly rock music. The owners of the track built an associated hotel for visitors to the facility. In the 21st century, owners appealed for lower taxes in order to make their operations viable.
They complain of having to compete with the Turning Stone Casino and Resort of the Oneida Indian Nation, which does not have to collect state taxes on its sovereign land. The Nation does pay a portion of its revenues to the state under a gaming compact, essentially in lieu of taxes, as well as making donations and contributions to regional communities.
On February 11, 2008, the racino/casino closed down after the New York State Assembly's Racing and Wagering Committee failed to pass a bill that would allow Vernon Downs and other racinos in New York pay less in taxes to the state. Legislation was quickly passed, and the ownership reopened the casino three days later.
- CasinoCityTimes.com: "Vernon Downs bill voted down", Casino City Times, 11 February 2008
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