NY casino panel to consider Cuomo's request to reopen bidding for 4th casino in Southern Tier

Industries Associated Press

The board tasked with picking locations for casinos in upstate New York will consider Gov. Andrew Cuomo's request to reopen the bidding process for a license in the Southern Tier, the board's chairman said Friday.

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Gaming Facility Location Board Chairman Kevin Law defended the decision not to pick one of two casino applications from the Southern Tier but said "we are willing to entertain the governor's request."

The board is expected to vote on whether to reopen the bidding for the fourth license at a meeting Tuesday in Manhattan.

Last month, the board approved three Las Vegas-style casinos, with one each in the Catskills, the Finger Lakes and Schenectady. The board withheld a fourth available license and rejected two Southern Tier proposals.

Cuomo asked the board to reconsider after leaders in the economically struggling area along the Pennsylvania border complained.

In his statement Friday, Law said it "would not have been appropriate to recommend either" of the two Southern Tier proposals — Traditions resort in Broome County and Tioga Downs racino in Nichols.

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Instead of those two proposals, the board selected the Lago Resort Casino in the Finger Lakes, which it said had a better financing proposal.

Law said it's possible new applicants might offer proposals if bidding is reopened. Tioga is also expected to submit a revised application. Law said the board would not consider awarding the fourth license in either of the other two regions authorized for casinos: the mid-Hudson Valley-Catskills or the Albany-Saratoga region.

Tioga had been seen as the favorite for a fourth license after the developers behind Traditions announced their support for the project. Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural said Friday that he hasn't heard of any other groups interested in bidding for a license.

"There's no reason the Southern Tier should be left out," he said.

Gural said he believes his project was passed over last time because the board didn't take his existing investment in Tioga Downs into consideration.

The chairman of the state's Gaming Commission — which must formally approve the casino licenses — noted Friday that voters authorized the new casinos to "benefit economically distressed upstate areas experiencing high levels of unemployment.

"Clearly the Southern Tier meets this criterion," the chairman, Mark Gearan, wrote in a statement. "A process to generate new proposals focused on the Southern Tier may create an additional opportunity ... that could bring the region important economic development and employment."