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December 03, 2016
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Horsemen appeal to legislature; No race track at the casino?

The horsemen at Monticello Raceway are locked in a battle with management over revenue.
Contributed photo

Legislator Ira Steingart said, “I certainly want to see the horsemen stay; they’re part of the community. But I certainly don’t want to get in the middle of the negotiations.”

Response from racetrack management

Charles Degliomini, executive vice president of Empire Resorts/Monticello Casino & Raceway issued a statement regarding the contract and the pulling of the simulcast signal.

He said, “It’s unacceptable that the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association (MHHA) is attempting to leverage us into paying tens of millions of dollars beyond what is clearly stipulated in the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act. The senate, assembly and the governor successfully crafted a bill that creates jobs, tourism and economic development for Upstate New York, while also providing hold-harmless revenue protections for the horse racing industry. Importantly, the act also created a level playing field for all casino competitors, even those who have current racetrack operations.

“After many rounds of negotiations and mediation, we offered the MHHA certain additional upside revenue based on milestones associated with our future success. Unfortunately this offer was rejected. The MHHA in turn resorted to strong-arm tactics concocted by their misguided leadership and their attorney to try to force us into paying them considerable revenue beyond what the law requires, and consequently disadvantage us as we compete for a casino license. They are also using our contract as a political hostage in a cynical attempt to have Albany change the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act. While Monticello Raceway is clearly an innocent casualty, because our current contract happens to have recently expired, we remain committed to seeking a fair resolution to quickly put an end to this dispute.”

Regarding relocating the racetrack, Degliomini wrote, “We currently have final site plan approval for a casino, hotel and harness horserace track at the site of the former Concord Resort. While the act does not require us to build a new track, we are awaiting clarification pursuant to the New York State Gaming Commission request for application process to better understand if a new harness track may be required. We have been operating harness racing since 1958, and in any scenario remain committed to improving, supporting and operating harness racing—either at our new location if we are a successful bidder, or at the current Monticello Raceway.”