New York State Considering Big Changes Impacting Horse Racing

changes could be coming



The New York State legislature has gone back to work and the horse racing industry is watching Albany very closely because there might be significant changes coming to both thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. There is a thought that horse racing around the New York City area may end up consolidating with Belmont racetrack getting a makeover that would allow the track on the New York City-Nassau County border to accommodate both types of racing. That would allow the owners of thoroughbred racing’s Aqueduct track and Standardbred’s Yonkers-Empire City racetrack to shut down and develop acres of land around those two facilities that presently have both a casino and racetrack. But there is a problem with the thought. The New York State legislature mandated that racetracks and casinos go hand in hand and that a casino cannot exist without a racetrack.

There is some talk of building a convention center at the Aqueduct site which is located near Kennedy Airport. The Yonkers site would have become a shopping mall had the state not allowed a casino to be built adjacent to the track.  New York is planning to issue three casino licenses in the New York City metropolitan area by 2021. It appears the owners of both racetracks are angling for those licenses.  In 2001, state lawmakers decided the only way to save the Standardbred industry in New York was to allow track owners to install video lottery terminals inside the track’s grandstands. The tracks became casinos first, horse racing facilities second. The casino at Yonkers Raceway took in $590 million in bets in 2016. What might replace the 118-year-old half mile Yonkers racetrack? Possibly retail, possible a sports facility although in the New York City area just one team is looking for a home, the MLS’ New York City club. Belmont is getting an arena. The horse racing industry is watching.



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