The Saratoga Casino and Raceway started as just a horse track offering harness races. It opened in 1941 and is made up of a 1/2 mile track built for standardbreds. In addition to the horse racing track, they now have nearly 2,000 slot machines along with electronic table games, video poker and keno. They are currently not able to offer traditional live table games due to the laws and regulations in New York. They only recently added the virtual table games, which seems to be a step in the direction of being able to make live table games available sometime in the future. What really draws in the crowds here, however, are the live harness races that run from March to December each year. The course has a long and storied history which is marking its 75th anniversary in 2016.
The casino is a far drive from the heart of New York City, located about 175 miles due north. Though it is a 3-hour drive, it still makes for a nice weekend get-away spot for many horse racing enthusiasts in the city and other parts of New York state. For avid gamblers, however, many prefer to make the drive to Atlantic City which is slightly closer and offers a wider selection of casinos, table games and slots. Another drawback to Saratoga Springs is that Belmont and The Aqueduct are located much closer to the city. There are also a few other popular tracks in upstate New York which Saratoga must compete with. That being the case, Saratoga is still popular in its own right and brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It is currently one of the most popular “Racinos” within the state.
The casino at Saratoga Raceway will be somewhat underwhelming to those of you who are used to vegas-style casinos which offer card games, dice and roulette. The casino at Saratoga only offers electronic games at this time. They do have virtual variations of a few popular table games including blackjack, craps, three card poker and roulette. For many, this is not as exciting as playing with a live dealer but it can still be entertaining if you happen to visit. They do have around 200 different types of electronic games which are offered on over 1,700 individual machines, making the casino floor here pretty small. They do claim to be the first casino in New York to offer electronic craps, but it seems since that time many others have followed in their footsteps. A few other indian casinos in the state even have real, live table games, so this doesn’t seem to be a big draw for visitors.
To gamble at Saratoga, the age is just 18 years old much like the lottery system within the state. All of the points we went over above, combined with their dining, entertainment and live music options make Saratoga Casino more of a destination for entertainment and horse racing then they do for hard-core gambling. A large majority of the population in New York is located in and around the city, so other options like Resorts World Casino, Belmont and The Aqueduct generally bring in larger crowds each year.
The Racetrack at Saratoga Springs is the sole reason behind the casino being located here today. The half-mile track has over 70 years of history behind it, making it one of the biggest draws in the Saratoga Springs area. The racetrack here is the third-oldest harness track in the United States, running its first race in June of 1941. Since then it has continued to grow on a yearly basis, running races each year with the exception of 1943 due to the war efforts.
Today, you can bet on live races during the season, or wager on other races from around the world through simulcast which are displayed on TV’s throughout the raceway. The Fortunes Restaurant at Saratoga even allows you to wager on races right at the table which differentiates it from many other dining options in upstate New York. The ever-growing success of the harness races at Saratoga led to several expansions and renovations since it first opened its doors, and eventually, this success helped pave the way for slots and casino games to become available.
Saratoga Casino and Raceway has a somewhat limited offering of food options, in part due to the fact that until 2016 there was no hotel or resort here. They are still in the process of expanding their casino/resort options, and consequently the dining options may also be expanded, but for now there are just a small handful of restaurants located at Saratoga Raceway. These current options are outlined below.
Garden Buffet: The Garden Buffet is an all-you-can eat buffet located directly on the gaming floor. It is fairly inexpensive and offers up popular foods including Italian, Asian and American style meals.
Fortunes Restaurant: Offers classic American meals with a great view of the racetrack. They also have a buffet Fridays and Saturdays after 5PM and a Sunday brunch after 11AM.
Lucky Joe’s: Offers American style food in a casual environment.
Morton’s Steakhouse (July 2016): Morton’s Steakhouse is the newest addition to Saratoga Casino and Raceway. It is set to open on July 4th 2016, and will be located within the new hotel. Morton’s offers steaks and American cuisine in an upscale environment.
Up until this year (2016), if you visited Saratoga Casino and Raceway you were limited to choosing nearby hotels for overnight trips. Over the past year, however, they have added a 117-room hotel with 9 luxury suites which will be located right on the premises. This new hotel will be over 120,000 square feet and cost the raceway around $40 million to complete. Aside from hotel rooms, it will also feature an indoor pool, 3,000 square feet of event space, Morton’s Steakhouse, lobby bar and cafe. This will help to give Saratoga a resort feel and compete better with other casinos in New York. The grand opening will be held on July 4th 2016 to kick off independence day.