Racinos declare war on Catskills Indian casino


| smosco@queenscourier.com |

Racinos across New York are banding together to halt a compact that would pave the way for a Catskills Indian casino – saying it might kill the state’s racing industry.
According to a letter drafted by five New York Racinos, former Governor David A. Paterson submitted a compact to the federal Department of Interior (DOI) that would give Wisconsin’s Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians the ability to develop a casino with table games and slot machines in Sullivan County, New York.
The letter states that the compact could cause New York State to lose $400 million in tax revenue, nearly $200 million in state education and up to 1,000 jobs. The letter was sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and the New York State Department of Budget and Division of Lottery.
Leaders of the state’s racinos called for an immediate reevaluation of the deal to help ensure New York does not lose jobs and revenue as a result of the last minute Paterson deal with the Wisconsin based Indian tribe.
Saratoga Gaming & Raceway secretary and shareholder James Featherstonehaugh signed the letter, which was approved by Resorts World New York, which will run Aqueduct’s new Racino, in South Ozone Park; Finger Lakes thoroughbred track near Rochester; and Yonkers, Monticello and Buffalo harness tracks.
“We believe that this compact, signed and submitted without public input or oversight and at the very end of the Paterson’s tenure, poses significant, negative budgetary impacts for New York State that should be carefully re-evaluated, particularly in this time of fiscal crises to determine whether or not the current New York State administration should withdraw the compact and inform the DOI that it no longer supports the compact,” the letter reads.
Indian casinos pay far less in taxes – 18 to 25 percent on slots and 0 percent on table games – as opposed to Racinos, which pay taxes anywhere from 60 to 70 percent on Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) revenues. It is this contrast in taxes that the Racino operators believe will cost the state money.
Racino operators also called on Cuomo to ask the DOI to “stop the clock” on its statutory, mandated 45-day evaluation of the compact until the state can complete a financial evaluation.
The governor’s office did not return The Queens Courier’s requests for comment.