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Gural: Tioga, Vernon Not Closing

Published: July 18, 2020 11:14 am ET

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Reports have recently surfaced that Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs would be closing on October 1 based on paperwork that was filed with the state of New York. Jeff Gural has put those rumours to rest.

Gural, owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, emphatically told harnessracing.com Friday afternoon that despite published reports that indicated both New York racetracks would be closing on Oct. 1, that is not the case.

“We’re not closing!” Gural answered when asked about the reports that appeared after paperwork was filed on Monday (July 13) with the New York Dept. of Labor under the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law, known as the WARN Act.

“Typically, when companies that are going out of business, they have to send out WARN notices that they are going out of business, so they just assumed we were going out of business,” Gural said about reaction to the filing of required paperwork.

While both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have reopened for live harness racing -- without spectators -- after being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the casinos at both sites have remained closed due to state regulations. As a result, more than 600 employees at Tioga Downs and more than 300 at Vernon Downs received furlough notices in March when both sites closed.

Under the WARN Act, the employees who were furloughed or laid off in March will be terminated on Sept. 30, thus the paperwork was filed.

“When you furlough your employees, they are automatically terminated after six months,” said Gural. “And then if you terminate you have to give WARN notice, so this is a legal requirement.”

Gural said while racing has resumed, without casino revenue he admits he isn’t sure how much longer he can keep the racetracks open. And while is remaining cautiously optimistic, he hasn’t been given any assurances from Gov. Andrew Cuomo as to when that might happen.

“Having said all this, I don’t know how I can keep going with the place closed,” said Gural. “I lose money every day keeping the racing going. I can’t open at all and we’re losing a fortune.”

(Harnessracing.com)


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