Vernon Downs bill in stretch run

Local state officials say New York should go the extra mile for the legendary "Home of the Miracle Mile.”

State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-47, Rome, and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, announced on Thursday that legislation potentially helping the Vernon Downs Casino Hotel has been passed by the Senate and Assembly and has been sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his consideration.

Griffo was a cosponsor of the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, while Buttenschon sponsored the legislation in the Assembly. The bill (S6832/A7572) permits Vernon Downs to use a percentage of the facility’s revenue currently earmarked for capital awards, as well as revenue retained by the New York State Gaming Commission for administration, for operating purposes. Griffo helped to craft this proposal in 2017 — which is seen as a potentially significant boost for the track.

"I am pleased that this bill has passed the Senate and that we can provide additional assistance and support to Vernon Downs, which is critically important to the Mohawk Valley,” Griffo said. "This legislation will help maintain jobs at the facility, further protect the harness racing and breeding industry in Central New York and preserve the amount of education aid that the facility contributes.”

"Vernon Downs is an important component of our community that not only provides jobs to Mohawk Valley residents, but contributes to the livelihood of harness racing,” Buttenschon said. "It’s critical that we continue to ensure Vernon Downs has the ability to use additional gaming revenue to cover operating costs, especially in the wake of increased competition. This legislation is victory for our local economy and for the hundreds of employees at this facility.”