Harness racing at a racino
There are 39 casinos in the state of New York. Nine are racinos — a racino is a racetrack property which also holds a facility with slots or gambling machines. If a property is a casino but it isn’t a Native American establishment, then it is a racino. If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of gaming in NY state, it’s a little difficult to understand which casinos and racetracks are where, exactly. The explanation is this: Previously, no casinos other than Native American casinos were permitted in New York. There were only the Native American ones and horse racetracks, where betting was also permitted.
The regulations were changed in recent years, and now casino-type gaming — limited to video slots or electronic table games — is permitted, but only at racetracks which already had a gaming history and compliance with the state. The licenses for this new entity, a “racino,” were granted to 9 racetracks. Most racetracks, however, have given its casino facility a name different from the track itself. Therein lies the confusion: The casino seems to be a separate thing. But it exists only under the authority of the racetrack. There are 10 betting racetracks in New York, and the only one that did not become a racino is Belmont Park. Many of Belmont’s races were moved to Aqueduct since needed renovation and expansion had not taken place, due in part to political disagreement. Belmont is owned by the state.
There are 10 horse racetracks in New York (and 1 nonwagering track, called Historic Track), 9 of which are racinos. The racinos list:
Aqueduct Racetrack & Resorts World Casino NY
Located within the New York City limits, in Queens, NYC, NY.
The track is at South Ozone Park.
The subway has a station set apart just for the racetrack. It is open from 11am to 7pm when the track is open. The associated casino is Resorts World Casino, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd., Jamaica NY 11420
The Aqueduct has a long history, having been built in 1894 by the Queens County Jockey Club. It has 3 concentric tracks, the longest of which is one and one-eighths mile long. There is both a dirt track and a turf track, so racing can go on all year round. It also has heated stands and provides an important venue for the racing fans of the community.
Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has 5,000 video gaming terminals and electronic table games, which include craps and Sic Bo. It is a rare, inner New York City experience which we’ve written a full article about.
Yonkers Raceway / Empire City Casino
Located at 810 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers NY 10704
Yonkers Raceway was founded in 1899, named then the Empire City Race Track. It is a standardbred harness racing track and is a half-mile long. It is a dirt track. It is owned by the Rooney family, who still hold part ownership of the Pittsburgh Steelers (which in recent years brought the Rooneys’ compliance with NFL regulations, to be uninvolved with gambling interests, into question).
The Empire City Casino at Yonkers opened in 2006 with 1,870 video gaming machines. They now have 5,300 slots machines which include Wheel of Fortune, Video Poker, progressives, and keno. The slots range from 1-cent machines to $100 games. Both reels and video games.
They also have electronic roulette, electronic craps, baccarat and electronic Sic Bo.
Fairgrounds Gaming: Buffalo Raceway & Hamburg Casino
Located at Hamburg Fairgrounds, 5600 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg, NY 14075-0038
Fairgrounds is just about 14 miles from downtown Buffalo, and the half-mile track, Buffalo Raceway, is a harness racing track established in 1942. Even before they rebuilt extensively, it became a top ten track and some famous racers made their mark there. Attendance has been large since the 1960s. With the improvements over the decades to the site, winter racing was added. Today simulcast racing covers major thoroughbred and standardbred races across the country, and visitors may wager on these in the facility. If you wish to bet on Buffalo races but can’t get there, there is a long list of OTB facilities you can visit, here: http://www.buffaloraceway.com/simulcast/wagering-on-buffalo/
The casino, first known as Fairgrounds and later as Hamburg Casino, opened in 2004 with over 900 video gaming machines. Today it has 940 slot machines for video poker, progressive jackpots, penny slots. You may use cash or tickets in the machines, but they pay out with a ticket you can redeem with the cashier.
There are 16 penny slot games, many of them progressives; 25-cent slots; $1, $5, and $10 slots. This racino is open Monday-Sunday, 8am to 4am.
The horse racetrack season for 2014 runs from January 9-July 21. Live races happen on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Free admission and free parking. There are 5 different restaurants including the Midway Buffet, and The Winner’s Circle Cafe. The Winner’s Circle’s 75 tables overlook the racetrack, and reservations are suggested, call 716-649-1280 ext. 300
Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack
Located at 5857 State Route 96, Farmington NY
The Finger Lakes Racetrack hosts live thoroughbred horse racing from mid-April into early December.
The casino houses almost 1200 slots. This establishment is open daily from 8am to 4 am. Racing doors open at 11:30am. Free admission and free parking.
Monticello Casino and Raceway
Located at 204 Route 17B, Monticello NY 12701
Monticello Raceway hosts standardbred harness racing on a half-mile track all the year round.
Monticello Casino has over 1,000 slot machines including progressives, penny slots, high limit machines, video poker. They are expecting to add electronic table games soon. As for dining, there are 3 choices: The buffet, offering prime rib, lamb chops, and shrimp; The Terrace Restaurant for fine dining, and the Food Court.
Saratoga Casino & Raceway
Saratoga is a standardbred harness racing track, and is a half-mile oval course. Races go from March into December. (Across the street is the old Saratoga Race Course, open July thru September, which hosts thoroughbred racing.)
In 2004 the Casino opened with more than 1,700 VLTs, or video lottery gaming terminals. They have also introduced Electronic Craps and Electronic Roulette. The upper floor of the casino houses a food court, a buffet called Lucky Joe’s, a nightclub and bar. Open from 9am to 4am daily.
Located at 2384 W. River Rd., Nichols, NY 13812
Tioga is a standardbred harness racetrack. Up until about 35 years ago it was a quarterhorse track.
The casino has 802 electronic gaming machines or VLTs. These include progressives. The property is owned by Jeffrey Gural and his company American Racing & Entertainment LLC. Gural is currently considering the construction of a 6-story hotel — and applying for a license for regular casino table games. Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning to offer 3 gaming licenses of the sort for upperstate NY.
Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel
Address: 4229 Stuhlman Road, Vernon NY 13476
Vernon Downs Racetrack is in central New York and offers harness racing. Races go from April to November.
The casino has 767 gaming machines including video poker from 1cent to $5, in-house progressive slots, and more. Hours of operation are Sunday-Thursday: 9am to 2am; and Friday-Saturday: 9am to 3am.
8315 Park Rd., Batavia NY 14020-1272
The Batavia Downs racetrack features harness racing from the end of July thru December. It is the oldest lighted harness track, opened in 1940.
Their Casino is open daily from 8am to 4am. They offer 640 electronic games.