Saratoga Casino-Hotel overview
The Saratoga Casino-Hotel became New York’s first Racino after the Saratoga Springs, New York harness racing track expanded in 2004 and added legally approved Video Lottery Terminals.
It began as Saratoga Raceway and was previously known as Saratoga Casino and Raceway. In fact, Saratoga opened in 1941 as an American harness racing facility offering pari-mutuel wagering. It was just the third of its kind in the country. The name was changed from Saratoga Raceway to Saratoga Equine Sports Center in the 1990s after signs that horse racing’s popularity was declining.
Tough times continued until 2001 when New York State approved a bill allowing VLTs to be installed at race tracks. Saratoga County added its approval in 2002. Construction on a project to turn the grandstand’s ground floor into a gaming facility began in 2003.
In January 2004, Saratoga became the first horse racing facility in New York to offer VLTs to the public. The name of the property was changed to Saratoga Gaming and Raceway.
It was changed again to Saratoga Casino and Raceway in 2011 when it began offering electronic table games. The Racino flourished and the harness racing operation reaped the benefits. In fact, purses grew by leaps and bounds.
Saratoga Casino and Raceway owners bought the Fitzgeralds Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado in 2012 and renamed it the Saratoga Casino Black Hawk. Three years later, horse racing giants Churchill Downs bought a 25 percent stake in the company.
That same year, construction of a hotel began on the property. The name of the property was officially changed to Saratoga Casino-Hotel when the hotel finally opened in July 2016.
New York’s premier Racino
The first floor grandstand casino floor now boasts more than 1,700 VLTs, including:
- video poker machines
- electronic roulette
- keno games
The facility also hosts betting on simulcast and live horse racing from its 1⁄2-mile standardbred race track on the second floor.
All of Saratoga Casino-Hotel’s VLT machines work on a voucher system. All payouts receive a printed voucher that can be inserted into another VLT, or turned in at the cage for cash.
In addition to various slots, Saratoga Casino-Hotel VLT games include:
- Video Poker
- Video Poker Progressives
- Electronic Blackjack
- Electronic Roulette
- Electronic Three Card Poker
- Electronic Craps
Saratoga Casino-Hotel was New York’s first Racino and remains one of the state’s largest. The huge number of VLTs on site put the gaming experience on par with many of the state’s brick and mortar casino properties. The VLTs are available to anyone 18 years of age and up.
Prepared for an iGaming future
New York lawmakers are not currently considering legalizing online casino gaming. Saratoga Casino-Hotel appears ready for it if that should that ever change.
The horse racing industry remains at the forefront of the iGaming industry. In fact, Saratoga Casino-Hotel currently operates the SaratogaBets interactive wagering platform, allowing secure online horse wagering.
Saratoga Casino-Hotel appears to have the infrastructure in place to take advantage immediately should New York legislators become interested in legalized and regulated online casino games. In fact, it’s a good bet Saratoga Casino-Hotel will be early iGaming adopters, considering it was the first horse racing facility to offer VLTs.
Could online poker be next?
In 2017, two identical bills aimed at legalizing and regulating online poker in the State of New York were introduced into the Senate and Assembly. Supporting legislators believe there is very little standing in its way and claim New York’s licensed casino and Racino properties are all behind it.
This would presumably include the Saratoga Casino-Hotel. However, the property does not include a Poker Room. In fact, the organization has very little experience with the online poker industry. However, Saratoga Casino-Hotel does operate the SaratogaBets interactive wagering platform. This represents the only legal online wagering in the state. It also suggests Saratoga Casino-Hotel would be willing to enter the iGaming fray, should it ever become legal. Particularly if it is seen as a way to continue to bolster its horse racing interests.
From track to racino, and casino to resort
The addition of a four-floor 117-room hotel in 2016 has helped turn Saratoga Casino-Hotel into a resort destination.
In fact, the 123,000 square foot property includes:
- an indoor pool
- spa whirlpool
- outdoor terrace
- 13 luxury suites
- 3,000 square feet of meeting and event space
Plus, the hotel includes a Morton’s Steakhouse. Additional restaurants and bars at the Saratoga Casino-Hotel include:
- The Garden Buffet
- Lucky Joe’s
- Diamond Jim’s bar
- Fortunes Perks Café, which serves Starbucks coffee
The property is also home to the Vapor nightclub, which hosts special events, live music and local DJs.
Saratoga Casino-Hotel offers free membership to the Saratoga Club, where members earn rewards and benefits for slots and electronic table game play. Membership also includes:
- exclusive offers
Points can be used towards:
- show tickets