I was at Aqueduct on Saturday for the last big day of Thoroughbred racing in New York until next spring. It somehow seemed fitting that it was a cold, blustery day, with a hint of snow flurries in the air late in the afternoon. Few racetrack patrons ventured out onto the apron to watch the horses, but the place was rocking – inside the casino, that is.

The signage out front says nothing of Aqueduct – it’s all about Resorts World Casino New York, which celebrated its first anniversary a month ago. In its first year (plus a few days), the casino generated $650,566,008 in net win, $286,259,044 in revenue for education and $247,215,083 in commissions split between the casino operator (Genting), purses, breeders and the New York Racing Association.

Digging a little deeper, the purse number is interesting. The current legislation gives 6.5 percent of net revenue to purses during the first year (with an anniversary date of October 27), rising to 7.0 percent for the second year and 7.5 percent thereafter. Estimating the amount of win for the first year ending October 27, the purse share would be about $41.8 million.

That’s a staggering number, given that total Thoroughbred purses paid in New York (including NYRA tracks and Finger Lakes) were $115.8 million in 2010 and $118.9 million in 2011. In 2011, Thoroughbred purses actually lagged behind purses paid at the harness tracks for the first time – those tracks have already been benefitting from video gaming machines. Harness purses rose from $35.2 million in 2003, before gaming, to $122.4 million in 2011, while Thoroughbred purses have varied over the past decade, peaking at $138.5 million in 2008.

Clearly the contribution from video gaming at Aqueduct is substantial for the New York Racing Association, which also receives three percent of casino net win plus four percent for capital improvements. That is, as long as the government decides to keep that split. With the current stewardship of NYRA by a new appointed board, and concerns about the money going to purses, nothing is set in stone. Gaming money is by no means a sure thing, as witnessed in Ontario this year. There’s still much more of this story to be written.

Here’s a monthly look at the impressive revenues generated by the casino:


 Net gaming revenue# of machines
Daily win
per machine
October 2011$5,821,3742,486$585.42
January 201250,669,4455,000326.90