Tioga Downs Owner Makes a Second Attempt at a Casino Bid

Jeffery Gural a real estate executive, horse owner, and racing enthusiast, is the owner of Tioga Downs racino located in Nichols, N.Y. He is looking to turn his racino into a casino. The original application for the fourth casino license in New York was declined in December 2014. Mr. Gural has since improved on the original proposal. He took the criticisms of the state approval board into consideration. He has resubmitted his application. This month oral presentation before the casino board will be held and in the fall, a casino operator will be selected if the license for the casino is approved.

The new proposal would add $125 million worth of changes to the current facility. The original bid featured an 86,000 square foot hotel with 137 rooms. The new proposal features a 97,000 square feet hotel addition with 161 rooms. This more than doubles the current facility. This hotel would be for casino patrons as well as the area tourists. High rollers can expect a result style experience.

In addition to the hotel, the new casino is going to bring in other jobs such as slot machine technicians, table game attendants, and security. There will also be a two restaurants, pool, day spa, possible concert venue; there is also the possibility of purchasing Tioga Country Club golf venue. All of which will bring additional jobs to the area. Mr. Gural predicts as many as 560 full time jobs. This will more than double the current number of full time positions.

According to the gaming licensing commission the proposal assessment is based on 70% economic activity and business development as well as value to patrons; 20% local impact, things like cooperation with local business and live entertainment; 10% workforce augmentation and measures to address gaming addiction. The license fee is $20 million.

Mr. Gural believes his casino can be a success because his nearest competitor is ninety miles away in Mohegan Sun in Pennsylvania. He expects the casino to bring in as much as $14.8 million worth of revenue after prize awards payouts. Based on that estimate the Tioga County would see as much as $1.7 million tax worth of revenue a year. Surrounding counties would also see an increase in tax revenue. There are currently no other contestants to the southwest casino license.

Tioga Downs was originally Tioga Park opened in 1976 as a quarterhorse track. It closed down in 1978 due to the track losing money. In 2000, Jeffery Gural began lobbying for the state approval of video lottery terminals and won in 2005. He purchased the land and in 2006, Mr. Gural opened his racino naming it Tioga Downs. Currently it offers harness racing, video poker, video lottery terminals, and electronic roulette. If Mr. Gural gets his license application approved the first thing he plans to do is to replace the 802 video machines with 1,000 slot machines. By March 2016, he plans to have a new poker room. The hotel would be completed by spring 2017.

In 2013, New York voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing for seven casinos. The first four licenses were up to be awarded in 2014 and the remaining three should be awarded seven years later. The proposal steamed in hope of recapturing gaming enthusiast New Yorkers from out of state facilities, thus reclaiming some of the lost revenue. The licensing proposal repeatedly states that the location of this casino is essential in recapturing New Yorkers and gaming revenue that currently head to Pennsylvania. Assuming Mr. Gural’s record in winning state approval holds New York will be seeing a new casino soon.

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