Vernon Downs At Risk of Closing in October
Vernon Downs is one of the casinos impacted by coronavirus. It might be the nail in the coffin according to owner Jeff Gural, chairman of the company that owns Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs.
Both Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs are private casinos and have been closed since the beginning of the state-wide shutdown that happened around March/April of this year. Hundreds of casino employees have been furloughed since then, and Gural told the Utica OD it's close to being the end.
Gural sent out notices under the federal WARN Act earlier this month. The act requires employers to provide advance notice of layoffs lasting more than six months. If Cuomo decides to keep private casinos closed through October, Vernon Downs will be shut down.
“At some point, we run out of money,” Gural told the Utica OD. “We’re doing the best we can.”
Gural said horse racing still is taking place twice a week at Vernon Downs, but it be forced to shut down by Labor Day if the casino did not reopen. He also said that they have a plan as to how they could operate, but have not had any guidance/calls returned from state officials.
“We have a plan,” Gural said. “No one has told us what to do to reopen.”
He also stated that it doesn't make sense how Turning Stone is allowed to open but casinos like Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs can not, adding that Vernon Downs is smaller than Turning Stone.
The reality here is it's more than about the casino, but the local economy is at risk. Gural is working with town officials to have reached out to reached out to state Sen. Joseph Griffo for help. He urges Cuomo to allow the casino to open, which not only employs hundreds, but supports the local economy as well.
[H/T Utica OD]