OFF TO THE RACES: Helming, Funke land deal to keep FLGR racing in 2017

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack

Negotiations are over.

On Tuesday the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack came to terms with an agreement, which ensures that the 2017 racing season will happen.

“Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack has been a tourist destination for our area for over 50 years, attracting people and families from all parts of New York State and the country, while providing over 1,200 jobs for our local workforce. We cannot underestimate the positive ripple effect that this agreement will have on our region’s small businesses, agriculture and other important economic drivers,” said Sen. Pam Helming.

“I am pleased that we were able to ensure that the horsemen were fairly compensated and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack can continue to operate and provide critically important tourism revenue for our local economy. My sincere thanks to all parties involved in helping to secure this agreement, including leadership of FLHBPA, Delaware North and my colleagues Senator Rich Funke and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb,” continued Helming.

It was months of speculation and negotiation, which culminated in a deal that will result in a 145-day season. The season will begin on Saturday, April 22nd and continue through November 28th.

“We are pleased to have come to an agreement that sets the wheels in motion for racing to continue at Finger Lakes this spring,” stated Chris Riegle, FLGR president and general manager after the deal was announced.

“All parties involved worked hard and productively over a long period of time toward a reasonable solution that most importantly provides assurance for close to 1,000 people who depend directly on the local racing industry for their livelihood.”

The problem stemmed from Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack losing money due to the opening of the del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre. The expected losses would have eventually impacted the 8.75 percent of gaming revenue, which contributes to racing purses.

“I’m grateful a solution is in place to save over 1,200 local jobs and our region’s racing heritage at Finger Lakes,” said Sen. Rich Funke. “After prolonged state inaction, I offered a proposal to advance the conversation with the goal of preserving a vital economic and tourism asset here. Thanks to the partnership of Senator Helming and others we succeeded in the home stretch, with horse racing and hundreds of jobs now secure at Finger Lakes through 2017 and beyond.”

Under the proposed agreement — Finger Lakes will contribute between $600,000 and $1 million to keep purses in tact. Last week, members of the Horsemen’s Association said that deal wasn’t enough, and didn’t go far enough.

Additionally, the New York Breeders Association will contribute $1.5 million for purse enhancements and del Lago Casino & Resort will contribute $447,000 per year over the next two years.

The deal will allow for a continuation of racing, which was ultimately the goal for all parties involved.

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