The board, which recommended licenses for projects in the Catskills, Schenectady and the Finger Lakes may, after all, grant a fourth license.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted on Monday that he hoped bidders presenting plans for a Southern Tier casino, are up to the task of proposing and building a dynamic project and if they do not, then a license may not be granted at all.
Governor Cuomo had sent a letter to the Gaming Facility, just last month, asking them to reopen the bidding for a Southern Tier casino, in the face of severe criticism of the board, after it failed to grant a license for a project in the Finger Lakes area.
The board gave in to Cuomo’s request early January and is in the process of setting up the solicitation of new bids, which it will then study. Since Cuomo’s reputation is also on the line, he told reporters that he hoped a “real blockbuster application” is selected for the Southern Tier.
The Southern tier – a second chance winner?
Some were left surprised when Cuomo succumbed to demands to have the gaming board issue a fourth license, whilst promising not to intervene on the board’s decisions. Cuomo said it was entirely the board’s decision, under US gambling laws, to activate bids for a casino in the Southern Tier and added that the region merited a chance and deserved a magnificent project.
• Racinos cower before future casinos
• Gural first contender for 4th casino
• Cuomo wants blockbuster
The Southern tier remains the only upstate place that is awaiting a casino license after the board granted casino licenses on December 17, to Tyre, Seneca County; Thompson, Sullivan County; and Schenectady.
Cuomo implied that news bidders should come forward and was doubtful that a former bidder would win since they were eliminated, for one reason or other, in the first round. Not everyone is happy though, with the extension of the bidding exercise to grant a 4th license. Orange County is one of them.
Orange County cries foul play
Catskills was chosen over Orange County, in the first round of bids, and now they think it’s unfair that they can’t be given a second chance. However Cuomo explained that the Southern Tier zone “was really drawn in an anomalous way, because of the exclusive Native American gaming rights of the Senecas and Oneidas on either side of the region”.
The exclusiveness of both tribes is due to a separate agreement with Cuomo back in 2013. The Southern Tier casino zone, that included a portion of the Finger Lakes that extended to Lake Ontario, had been defined.
So, when the Lago Resort & Casino project in Tyre was selected by the casino board, Southern Tier officials thought themselves cheated and called for Cuomo to have the biddings re-opened. The gaming panel in its defense said at the time the license was granted, the Lago plan was a winner and was thus chosen, over Southern Tier.
Tioga Down may try its luck again
Tioga Downs may bid again but the board told Jeff Gural that “he would need to submit a more expansive bid to be in contention”. Last Friday, Gural said he may just do so, but if he’ll need a gaming industry partner to make it blockbuster standard, he’d have to think it over.
His company has already invested $87 million into revamping Tioga Downs.Tioga Downs racino in Nichols, which is already a racino with video-lottery terminals’ is also owned by Gural as well as the Vernon Downs.