A deal struck by the involved parties and included in the state budget will keep money from gaming at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady flowing to the owners and trainers of harness racing horses at the Saratoga harness track, according to the Daily Gazette. Under the deal announced April 6, Rivers will make about $1.8 million in payments for 2020, and going forward will pay a set percentage of slot machine revenue, in what Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner described as a good compromise. Rivers had stopped making the state-mandated payments to the Saratoga Harness Horsepersons’ Association last year, when the casino was shut down due to COVID-19.
The budget deal includes Rivers making approximately $1.8 million in payments for 2020 over the next 12 months. Going forward, it establishes that the horsepersons association will receive 3.3% of Rivers’ slot revenue to enhance harness racing purses, with another 0.5% going to a breeder’s fund. Future payments will be capped at the 2019 level — around $5 million. The money goes to enhanced racing purses and other harness racing expenses at Saratoga.