Ortt says he will introduce legislation to allow duck derbies in canal

Posted 11 July 2016 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – Toy turtles float down the Erie Canal in June 2015 during “The Amazing Turtle Race,” a fund-raiser that benefits the Albion Strawberry Festival.

Press Release, State Sen. Rob Ortt

State Senator Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) today announced legislation he is introducing that would allow games of chance to be conducted on state-owned property. Games of chance include raffles like the popular duck derby races that many times are held on the state-owned canal – a violation of current state law.

“Some of the laws in New York State are antiquated and illogical; this general municipal law (189) is one of them,” said Senator Ortt. “Events like the duck derbies are raising money for good causes, not malice, and organizations should not be penalized for that just because those events are being held on state property. This law has been on the books for a long time, yet it’s scarcely enforced.”

Albion also has a popular fund-raiser on the Erie Canal, using turtles instead of ducks. Volunteers get ready to corral the turles in this photo from last month’s race. Nearly 1,000 of the turtles “race” every June in the fund-raiser that helps pay for the Strawberry Festival.

This legislation is in response to the cancellation of a duck derby fundraiser in Brockport after state Gaming Commission officials said it violated gaming laws and regulations. The derby, which has been a summer staple for the Brockport Arts Festival for years, consists of raffled toy ducks floating down the Erie Canal, which is state property.

Under current state law, organizations can only hold games of chance or raffle events on their own property or on municipal-owned property. Organizations conducting charitable gaming on state property can be charged with a misdemeanor.