Vernon Downs has postponed its April 21 opening day for harness racing, pointing to increased competition from three casinos in the region.

At the same time, American Racing and Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gural in a statement on Thursday called on the state to give the racetrack a tax break in order to shore up its finances due to the lost revenue.

“A tax break for Vernon Downs would not cost the taxpayers any money as taxes from gaming revenue lost from Vernon are currently being generated at our four main competitors in the region. Worse yet, including the horsemen, Vernon has the highest tax rate of its competitors,” Gural said.

“Lowering the tax rate is a way that New York can ensure that properties like Vernon Downs that do not have table games can remain competitive and continue to be an asset within the community. Since reopening Vernon as a racino in 2006 we have given almost $150 million to the State for education. My hope is that New York State will step to the plate to save the three hundred jobs of those that Vernon Downs currently employs in addition to all the jobs and benefits related to racing.”

Vernon Downs, Gural said, has lost an average of $150,000 a month since November. Three table-top gaming casinos have opened within driving distance of the track: Yellow Brick Road, operated by the Oneida Indian Nation, and the commerically run Lago and Rivers casinos.

Gural has been an outspoken businessman and successfully sought a fourth casino license after project proposals for the Southern Tier region failed to win approval from state gaming regulators.