Southern Tier racino submits proposal for casino license; 1 other bidder interested

Industries Associated Press

A racino on New York's Southern Tier submitted a proposal Thursday for a $145 million expansion to a full Las Vegas-style gambling facility, the first of what is expected to be at least two applications for a casino license in the economically struggling area.

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The application from Tioga Downs, which is located west of Binghamton, filled 55 boxes of paper. The deadline to submit proposals to state gambling regulators is Monday.

Tioga's bid includes $145 million in new investments, including a hotel, table games, 200 additional electronic gambling machines, two restaurants, and expansions and upgrades to the gambling hall and a nearby golf course.

"This would be more jobs, more revenue, more tourism for the Southern Tier," said Tom Osiecki, president of American Racing and Entertainment, the racino's parent company.

An earlier application from Tioga Downs was rejected last year by a state board tasked with picking operators and locations for up to four available casino licenses. The board instead picked proposals for Schenectady, the Finger Lakes and the Catskills, opting not to award the fourth license.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the bidding to be reopened for the fourth license after local leaders complained that the Southern Tier had been left out.

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Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural told The Associated Press on Thursday that he took the board's critique of his proposal to heart in preparing the new bid. Revisions include the addition of a second restaurant, a larger casino and changes to the project's financing.

Since Tioga already has an existing facility and parking, the casino could be up and running by mid-2016 if a license is granted, Gural said.

"We would be hiring people almost immediately," he said, saying the expansion would require several hundred additional employees.

A second development team looking to build a casino in the Binghamton area also is expected to submit a bid. Jeffrey Hyman, who is leading the effort, did not immediately return phone messages Thursday seeking comment.

A decision on the license is expected this fall.