Friday, August 31, 2012

NEW YORK: Jockeying for the last harness license

By David Lombardo

A fourth firm is vying for the eighth and final license to operate harness racing in the state. 
At the New York State Racing and Wagering Board meeting today, a group called the Oswego Racing Inc. will request approval for a certificate of incorporation. The group is proposing the creation of a project in Oswego County, in the town of Hastings, which would consist of a half-mile harness racing track and a 2.2 mile dirt auto racing surface. If the racing board grants this certificate of incorporation, it will put Oswego Racing Inc. on the road to becoming the eighth harness racing facility in the state. They’re a little late to the game, though, as three other firms have already received the certificate and are in various stages of the application process to get a license to conduct pari-mutuel harness racing. The three projects in the works are in Syracuse, the Thousand Islands area and Monticello. Gary Greenberg, minority owner of Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, says the racing board should put off granting any licenses until the New York Gaming Commission is up and running. The commission, which is a consolidation of the racing board and the lottery division, will likely not be created until February of 2013.
“There is not any need for more harness tracks in New York state,” Greenberg said. “I am vehemently against this group ever seeing the light of day as far as a harness track or casino.”
The Oswego County proposal and the one for Syracuse would create harness racing within about 50 miles of Vernon Downs, which has harness racing and electronic games. “Vernon Downs has been in Central New York for decades and deserves state support to continue to grow and develop into a full casino,” Greenberg added. It is not clear whether the four groups pushing for the last harness license, which is limited by state law, are motivated by a chance to install the lucrative video lottery terminals. These electronic gambling machines are very lucrative but only can be installed if there is racing on the site. Additionally, there is some thought that existing racinos, which host racing and electronic gaming, will be favored in the selection process for full-fledged casino locations, if a constitutional amendment is approved. There are currently nine racinos in the state, including one in Saratoga Springs.


  1. put it in alex bay that area desperately needs something. monticello already has a racino.

  2. yeah alex bay that would work.