The Plight of the Phantom Fourth Casino in the Southern Tier

Tioga Casino licence

Southern Tier may get Tioga Downs casino if Cuomo and developers have their way.

Upstate New York may see Tioga Downs getting the fourth casino license to build a Las Vegas-style casino in the state’s Southern Tier after all, after the state panel’s decision last week to grant only three. Complaints came from developers and elected officials who were upset that licenses were granted to build in the Catskills, Schenectady and the Finger Lakes region but not in the Southern Tier.

Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter last Friday to the Gaming Commission and its location board chairman, Kevin Law, asking for a speedy bidding process to be set up for a fourth casino in the Southern Tier. Law did state that given the influx of land-based and mobile casino marketing in the area, the decision had been made to grant only three casino licenses, not four.

For the moment, speculations are on about which developer will get the fourth license. Other developers, Traditions in Broome County, even said they are willing to step back if Tioga Downs was granted the license. Jeffrey Gural, owner of Tioga Downs said “The intent of the law was that the Southern Tier would get a license. I think the governor recognized that with the fourth license still available there was an opportunity.”

Last Monday, the Gaming Commission acknowledged receipt of Cuomo’s letter which stated that “As the legislation authorizing gaming facilities provided for up to four Upstate locations, and the GFLB selected three Applications…I am requesting the GFLB consider approving a new bidding process for Region Five with the hope that a qualified Applicant will come forward to site a casino with the fourth available license in the true Southern Tier”.

The Board said it would review the case. Mr. Cuomo had said it was up to the board to decide, under US gambling laws, where to put casinos. He had also pointed out earlier in December that “My position is very simple. We set up a process that has a separate board making the decisions; weighing all the factors…It’s up to them. It is all up to them.”

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