NY Racinos Saw Big Money Over July 4 Holiday

NY Racinos Saw Big Money Over July 4 Holiday
Photo: Coglianese Photos

New York's nine racinos saw their highest-ever win-per-machine totals during the recent July 4 holiday week on the more than 17,000 video lottery terminals operating in the state.

A review of state Lottery Division records shows the win-per-machine reached $332—up from $297 during the same week a year ago. It was also the highest weekly per machine win totals in the eight years since the state began permitting racetrack-based casinos. (The average win-per-machine for all of 2011 was $272, while they averaged $299 from January 1 through July 14 this year).

Industry officials credited everything from hot weather to July 4 fireworks to the biggest single factor: the momentum of the nine-month-old casino at Aqueduct.

Statewide, gross wins by the racinos totaled $39.9 million, led by the $14.9 million in gross winnings at Aqueduct's Resorts World casino. The statewide number is up from $26.1 million during the July 4 week a year ago, according to the review of lottery statistics.

All of the state's racinos showed an increase over a year ago in gross winnings and win-per-machine numbers, except the facility at Yonkers racetrack, where the force of the nearby Aqueduct casino is showing its effects.

Officials at Resorts World used the numbers from its brisk business during the July 4 week to press for additional gambling opportunities in a not-so-subtle statement.

"We can still do more. We will look to pursue additional opportunities in the future to generate even more revenue for the state and create thousands of more jobs for New Yorkers,'' said Michael Speller, president of Resorts World.

The state is considering a plan to dramatically increase the number of casinos on non-Indian lands in New York, a proposal that could not go before voters until at least November 2013.

The amount bet at the racinos during the recent holiday week totaled $591 million—up from $333 million during the 2011 July 4 holiday week.

"The governor and Legislature need to acknowledge the faith the betting public has in the racinos currently operating and the importance of each to education and agriculture in New York state,'' said Gary Greenberg, a minority owner at Vernon Downs racetrack in central New York.

A portion of a track's winnings goes to the state's general fund intended to help support spending on public schools. Of the $14.9 million in gross winnings at Aqueduct's facility, $6.5 million went to the Lottery Division for the education program, Resorts World officials said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has raised concerns about the different formulas by which racinos make revenue-sharing payments to the state, and has termed it a "scandal'' for the way in which some racino contracts were awarded.

He has also said he wants casinos, if approved by voters, to be located in more destination-type locations than many of the racino operations offer as a way to both increase revenues to the state and provide new tourism and other jobs. The state Legislature this year gave an initial okay to permitting seven additional casinos in New York, if voters agree to amend the state's constitution to permit full-blown, Las Vegas-style casinos.
 

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