Upstate NY Casino Tioga Downs Under New Ownership Via $175M Deal

Written By David Danzis on February 9, 2024
Exterior of Tioga Downs for a story on Jeff Gural selling the New York casino for $175 million

A Pennsylvania-based real estate investment trust paid $175 million for an upstate New York casino and racetrack property.

Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. acquired the real estate assets of Tioga Downs Casino Resort in Nichols from American Racing & Entertainment, according to a press release.

The two sides then entered into a 30-year triple-net master lease agreement with American Racing continuing to run the day-to-day operations of the casino resort that GLPI now owns.

Casinos ‘continue to grow’ in New York

American Racing CEO and founder Jeff Gural bought Tioga Downs for $32 million in 2005. Video lottery terminals were installed a year later and Tioga became a racino. New York awarded Tioga a class III casino license in 2016.

In the press release announcing the new arrangement, Gural said he was “excited to partner” with GLPI as they “continue to grow our business at Tioga Downs.” Gural went on to say:

“Our locals-oriented property has a well-protected feeder market with no competition within 85 miles and a very loyal following. Its location largely insulates it from gaming expansion in the downstate New York region. GLPI is a great steward of regional casino assets, and we are excited to begin this new relationship.”

Tioga Downs is one of four commercial casinos in New York with a class III gaming license. A New York class III gaming license permits operators to offer live-dealer table games and slot machines with random number generators.

New York is in the process of issuing three more commercial casino licenses in the downstate region, which includes New York City and Long Island.

Class III license holders would, presumably, be among the frontrunners for online casinos in NY if/when the State Legislature acts to legalize iGaming.

A little more on REITs, Tioga Downs

Gaming and Leisure Properties is one of two major casino REITs in the United States; NYC-based VICI Properties is the other.

GLPI and VICI are casino landlords, owning the physical assets, such as land and buildings. Meanwhile, the gambling companies are tenants who operate the business. The tenant is responsible for maintaining the property, getting insurance and paying taxes.

Some of GLPI’s notable casino holdings include Tropicana Atlantic City, Tropicana Las Vegas, M Resort in Nevada and Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia.

In the official announcement, Peter Carlino, GLPI’s CEO and chairman, noted that Tioga Downs is expanding the company’s portfolio. GLPI now owns 62 properties across 19 states with eight tenants. Carlino goes on to say:

“American Racing has 20 years of gaming, horse racing, and hotel experience, marking another addition to our portfolio of leading gaming operator tenants. Tioga Downs is a high-quality, recently expanded asset with significant geographic protection from competition. We look forward to the start of a fruitful partnership with American Racing. Our initiatives to further expand our portfolio remain active in the current environment as our reputation as the gaming landlord of choice is strengthened.”

Tioga Downs added a 160-room hotel in 2017. The 162-acre property features a 32,600-square-foot casino floor with 895 slots and 29 table games, a 2,500 sq. ft. FanDuel Sportsbook, seven dining concepts and an 18-hole golf course.

The track hosts standardbred ⅝ mile racing on the weekends between May and September.

Photo by Heather Ainsworth / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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