First, there was the announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office that a plan to ‘save’ Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack would include a payment from del Lago Resort & Casino, which opened in Tyre this month.
The exact amount of money is still being discussed and debated, but the proposal as Gov. Cuomo announced it would include a $440,000 payment from the Tyre casino.
It wouldn’t hurt the Seneca County communities benefiting from the newly opened casino and resort — but would instead cut into the state’s ultimate take from the facility.
Then, the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which works to protected more than 1,200 employees at the Farmington racetrack and gaming center — said the proposal wasn’t enough.
“In its present form the proposal falls short of what we feel is fair,” David Brown, president of the group told the D&C in a recent interview. “They are requiring the most sacrifice from those who can least afford it.”
The proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo would result in an effective shortage of the season by 24 days. Losing that equivalency would cost workers $2.5 million, according to the group.
Under the proposed plan Delaware North, operators of the Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack would commit between $600,000 and $1 million.
So we asked our readers on social media, as well as those on our website to let us know what they thought about the proposition.
Overwhelmingly, those who responded were largely against the plan. While some expressed concerns about the structure of it — most were simply unhappy with the prospect of one private business being asked to assist another, which is showing signs of weakness.
One reader emailed FingerLakes1.com, pointing out that this could open a Pandora’s Box of the sorts. “It’s $440,000 this time, but what will it be next time? Or even five years from now? Will del Lago become a silent partner — in form of forced payments if Finger Lakes doesn’t see their fortunes turn around?”
Valid questions, but a plan that will likely see support from Republicans in the region. Republican Sen. Rich Funke called for a $3 million measure, which would have been covered entirely by the state.
That’s another area where readers expressed concerns. “They say it’s money the state already has, or that it will make off of gaming — but that money should be used to lower taxes, not help a struggling business.”
Others expressed worry over the prospect of more than a thousand individuals being out of work. For the Farmington track, it’s about the network of employees and small businesses, which would be hurt by Finger Lakes slowing down operations — or worse yet — closing their doors completely.
“How would the region handle the loss of hundreds, maybe over a thousand workers?” one reader asked. It’s a valid question, which doesn’t have a good answer at this point.
Many of the jobs inside the Farmington track are service related jobs. This is an area where the region has grown dramatically. That said, the ripple effect that would be felt in the surrounding communities, where farms, stables, and other horse-related small businesses are able to operate because of Finger Lakes would deal a blow to the local economy not seen in some time.
There’s also the issue of taxes. “If they close, or even if the facility operates at half of it’s current capacity that would hurt the community. If it closed, I think we all know what would happen to taxes locally,” one Canandaigua resident said exiting the facility on Saturday.
If there is any silver lining, it’s that walking inside the main floor of the racetrack shows no signs of weakness. A steady stream of traffic moved in and out of the facility on Saturday afternoon.
Let us know what you think about the plan, as well as the presence of two casinos just 30 miles apart in the Finger Lakes in the comment section below — or on Facebook.