First N.Y. Racino Closes Its Doors
The gaming floor at Monticello Casino & Raceway became the first ever to close in New York when owner Empire Resorts followed through last week on plans to shutter the struggling operation, a fate that was all but predestined after Empire’s giant Resorts World Catskills debuted just six miles away.
“There is not enough business that remains at that VLT facility to justify the cost of operating it,” said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of publicly traded Empire (Nasdaq: NYNY).
The casino’s 1,100 video lottery terminals, which had been taking bets since 2004, were unplugged on April 23, and all players’ points and perks were transferred to Resorts World. The casino’s 160 or so employees were offered either a job at Resorts World or a severance package.
Empire has promised to keep open the 60-year-old harness track, which employs around 40, but observers believe its future is problematic as well as both attendance and handle have plummeted over the years.
“The guardians of racing are the horsemen. Track operators are the guardians of their pocketbooks and nothing else,” said Joe Faraldo, president of the state’s Standardbred Owners Association.
It was not expected that Resorts World’s opening last February would necessarily doom the racino, at least not according to Empire, which hoped the two would serve distinct markets. But when Resorts World struggled out of the gate