Vernon Downs files state WARN notice as potential closing looms
VERNON — Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, 4229 Stuhlman Road, has filed a WARN notice with the New York State Department of Labor, portending a potential closing of the historic harness racing track late this summer and early fall.
The WARN, or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, helps ensure advance notices in cases of plant closing and mass layoffs. Vernon Downs lists “economic” as the reason for the layoff. The total number of affected employees listed is 249.
“The expected date of the plant closing is August 7, 2023 for the Casino, Champions Buffet, Ring Eyed Pete’s and Triple 777 Cafe,” the notice reads.
“The expected date of the plant closing for the Racetrack, Trackside Deli and Miracle Mile is September 18, 2023. The expected date of the plant closing is December 31, 2023 for the Hotel, Mr. G’s Food & Spirits, Banquet Events and the remainder of the plant,” the state WARN notice added.
In 2017, a tax relief credit was passed by the New York State Senate for Vernon Downs, allowing the casino and race track to keep a larger share of the money generated by the video lottery terminals.
Vernon Downs CEO and President Jeff Gural argued in 2017 that New York State took too much of the VLT money from Vernon Downs and that Vernon Downs had been losing an average of $150,000 a month.
This tax relief credit was instated with a life of five years, which have since expired at the beginning of January.
Legislators are currently looking into what can be done, with Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, declaring her intent to work with colleagues to keep Vernon Downs open.
“I have been notified by my constituents of the possible closing of Vernon Downs in stages, if the legislative and executive branches can’t find a solution to supporting another tax credit extender,” Buttenschon said.
“I have worked endlessly with my colleagues in the legislature in the past and will continue to do so to assist Vernon Downs to remain open,” Buttenschon said.
“My number one priority remains the employees and their families,” the local assemblywoman added.
In other remarks, New York State Senator Joe Griffo, R-53, said, “I understand the challenges facing Vernon Downs and initially and successfully led efforts to provide relief for the venue in the past ... I will continue to work with my colleagues at all levels of government to keep the facility open and operational, support employees and ownership and push for action to be taken in Albany again to ensure that Vernon Downs is given every opportunity to be successful and thrive.”
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