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Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg

ALTHOUGH IT’S STILL identifiable as the main concourse of the grandstand building at the Monticello Raceway, trucks and construction workers are now all you’ll find inside the cavernous room, working to ready the track for the new video gaming machines.

Makeover In
Progress at Raceway

By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO — February 20, 2004 – The gaming machines are coming – 1,800 video lottery terminals to be exact.
And the Monticello Raceway plans to have them in operation by July 4.
The raceway recently changed its name to "Mighty M Gaming at Monticello Raceway." And they mean business – in every literal sense of that word.
Workers for the Fluor Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar construction and engineering company, have been at the raceway daily, tearing down parts of the 50-year-old structure and reconstructing others. The whole first floor has been shut down to the public so that the team can do the necessary work.
Not only are video gaming machines (VGMs) planned, but so is a new paddock that will no longer be viewable from inside the raceway, a possible new hotel, a 350-seat buffet, a food court, a lounge for nightly entertainment, a 4,000-seat grandstand, and a redone section for those who wager on horse-racing at Monticello and other tracks across the country.
According to a press release issued by the raceway, the VGMs will include games like “Blazing Sevens,” “Reel ‘Em In,” “Big Game Bonus Hunter,” and “Enchanted Unicorn.”
While the work is underway for a “racino,” track officials have not ended their quest to bring a casino into the fold. The Cayuga Nation is waiting for approval by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to build a casino adjacent to the raceway.
A law has already been passed granting a casino on the site, but an agreement still needs to be reached on compensation issues with the state, says Charlie Degliomini, vice president of Corporate Communications for Empire Resorts, the company which operates the Monticello Raceway.
Degliomini estimated that the new racino will add approximately 400 new full-time jobs.
Meanwhile, a bill introduced by State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther could introduce a referendum to legalize non-Indian gambling in Sullivan, Ulster, and Greene counties, as well as the City of Buffalo. Bonacic has called the various Native American tribes’ offers for compensation unfair.
Degliomini said that Empire Resorts has no current plans for a non-Indian casino. He called the prospects of legalized gambling "tough to get done," since two separate legislative approvals and a local vote would be required for its creation. (The next state legislature will take office in November 2005, so even if the current one signed off on such a plan, the process could not move forward until then.)
Even if non-Native American casinos are allowed into Sullivan County, Degliomini believes that the Mighty M Gaming will be competitive. However, he also stated that Empire Resorts would consider a casino of their own if gaming was legalized in the county.

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