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Vernon Downs bill voted down

11 February 2008

VERNON, New York -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- The state Assembly's Racing and Wagering committee failed to vote last Tuesday in favor of the tax-relief bill that would allow Vernon Downs to keep more of its revenue. Increased revenue would enable Vernon to make capital improvements and offer more give-backs to our customers. Since the assembly has been promising to pass legislation addressing this issue for over eight months and had once again failed to deliver, Jeff Gural, principal owner of the local racino, ordered the gaming facility closed effective at 1:00 a.m. today.

Gural has said that the closing is temporary and the racino will be reopened as soon as the legislature votes in favor of the bill which was originally intended to give all eight racinos in the state $60 million more in additional revenue. "My hope is that the legislation can be worked out quickly so that our employees can come back in a number of days rather than a number of weeks," said Gural on Sunday from his New York City home. "This uncertainty puts a terrible burden on our employees and their families. It's unfortunate that the large tracks, namely Saratoga, Yonkers and Finger Lakes made unwarranted last minute demands which stopped the legislative process cold," he continued.

The closing today forced Vernon Downs to temporarily lay off dozens of workers. Employment during racing season totals around 300 employees but in the winter months just over 200 people work at the hotel, gaming and racing complex.

Beginning with today's closure, Vernon Downs will forfeit revenues at the racetrack to the tune of about $150,000 per week in total simulcast racing handle and about $500,000 per week from gaming at over 750 video gaming machines. The Hotel at Vernon Downs will remain open to serve guests on a daily basis.

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