Tioga Downs finally got its casino license when the New York State Gaming Commission recently voted on the matter, after missing out on the chance several years ago.
A unanimous 4-0 decision was the outcome for the upstate facility, much to the delight of Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural.
He spoke with the Democrat & Chronicle after the vote.
“I really feel good for the people up there, to be honest,” Gural said of the state’s northern residents. “For the people in the Southern Tier, this is a real big development.”
The license will allow Tioga Downs to include table games and slot machines, adding to the exist video lottery terminals.
After the announcement, Tioga Downs broke ground on a hotel that can accommodate up to 400 guests.
Journey began in 2014 with ‘No’ vote
Tioga Downs’ big win this week comes about three years after New York voters approved a 2013 amendment (Proposition 1) that expanded the state’s casino count to seven. Shortly after the decision, Tioga was one of four properties to apply for a license.
However, it was the only property that did not receive a license, with gaming commission members noting that they chose the three most financially viable options.
The decision angered Gural, who express frustration over what he considered a dupe job by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Gural accused Cuomo of pressuring him to contribute to the casino amendment campaign, only to find himself as the sole owner of the four without a casino license.
“I think it’s an absolute insult. And the governor asked me to spend $800,000 of my money to pass Proposition 1, and then the intent was that there would be a casino in the Southern Tier. That’s what he said,” Gural told the Democrat & Chronicle at the time. “I feel like a complete fool.”
Commission hopeful of Tioga-led economic impact
As they did with the 2014 vote, the commission’s reasoning for the Tioga approval was based on the potential for positive economic impact on the region around the casino.
An article from political news site State of Politics noted that the commission anticipates the introduction of table games and slots will bring nearly $26 million in revenue to the state’s school-aid fund and more than $3 million to Tioga County and Nichols, the town in which the casino will be located.
During the meeting, Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams offered a statement about the decision. He said the casino license will bring hundreds of jobs to the casino, as well as boost economic development and raise millions for local government.
Better yet, he was quoted as saying, the project will not rely on a single cent from taxpayers.
Local news station WBNG is reporting that a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to take place on Sept. 6.
The casino cannot officially add table games and slot machines to its gambling offerings (or the three other casinos who won licenses in 2014) until final details are worked out by the gaming commission.