Casino closing at Monticello Raceway; track to remain open for now

Casino operations at Monticello Casino and Raceway in Thompson in Sullivan County, New York will soon be shut down, however, the harness racing track will remain open for business, at least for the time being.

According to The River Reporter…

News of the closing due to take place on or before April 23, 2019, was revealed by the racino’s owner, Empire Resorts (NYNY:NASDAQ GM), which is majority owned Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd of Malaysian conglomerate, Genting Group. In addition to the property located about 90 miles from New York City, the Monticello-headquartered company is also responsible for the $1.5 billion Resorts World Catskills, which opened in February 2018 and is located in New York State’s Catskill Mountains.

SEC filing:

In a Tuesday Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Empire Resorts informed…

“On January 22, 2019, management of the Company and Monticello Raceway Management, Inc. (“MRMI”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, notified employees of MRMI concerning the Company’s plans to cease video gaming machine operations and food and beverage service at Monticello Casino and Raceway. The Company anticipates operations to cease on or about April 23, 2019.”

Effort to improve earnings:

According to the company, the closure is an effort to prevent the racino from cannibalizing revenues from the more than 2,000 slots and 150 table games at its Resorts World property located just 10 minutes down NY-17.

Both properties have been losing millions, with Empire Resorts being saved from bankruptcy in 2009 by Malaysian Chinese billionaire businessman, Lim Kok Thay, board executive and Chairman of Genting Group, while Resorts World has averaged monthly losses of between $10 million and $13 million since its opening less than a year ago, according to the Times Herald-Record.

“enhance the casino experience”

In a statement, Empire Resorts’ Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Eller said…

“This move will allow us not only to increase operational efficiencies but enhance the casino experience at Resorts World Catskills for our guests with access to the industry’s newest slot products and more than 150 live table games,” as reported by the Times Herald-Record.

Nothing in writing:

According to the report, the 2004 introduction of gaming machines at the 230-acre harness horseracing facility eventually led to a full-fledged casino license in 2014 when commercial gaming was legalized in New York, as part of the company’s promise to the state to keep horse racing in the village in Sullivan County. However, nothing to that effect was ever put in writing and the same pledge was not made for the venue’s electronic gaming.

Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature, Luis Alverez, reportedly said that he doesn’t think horse racing has a future 7BALL CC in the New York county, according to the Times Herald-Record.

Stock sale:

The move by Empire Resorts comes on the heels of the sale of some 2,000 shares of the company’s stock by its Executive Chairman of the Board, Emanuel R. Pearlman. The Statement of Changes of Beneficial Ownership was filed with the SEC, the earliest of the two individual (1,000-shares) transactions dated January 17, 2019.

Future uncertain:

Some 40 employees will stay on at the Monticello Raceway, while the casino operation’s other 160 can opt to take severance packages or take positions at Resorts World Catskills, and while according to Empire Resorts, horse racing will continue at the racino, no guarantees were made in either the written statement or the SEC filing regarding the long-term future of the track.

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