Tioga Downs makes pitch for casino in NY's Southern Tier; 3 other projects await licenses

A racetrack casino in New York's Southern Tier presented its plans to become a full casino to state officials on Thursday, eight months after its initial proposal was rejected in favor of three other projects.

Officials at Tioga Downs, which is located in Nichols, hope to add table games, restaurants and a hotel if the state's Gaming Commission approves the plan.

Bidding for the casino license — the fourth and final casino permit available upstate — was reopened earlier this year following a request from local leaders in the Southern Tier, who hope gambling could help revive the area's struggling economy.

Tioga Downs is the only bidder. Its owner, Jeff Gural, said he significantly revised his project after his initial proposal failed to pass muster. The new plan presented to a meeting in New York City of the state's casino location review board calls for a larger project with additional amenities including a concert venue, along with new financing, including more equity.

There's no timetable for a decision on Tioga's proposal. A public hearing is planned for next week in the Southern Tier to let local residents weigh in.

In January, the location board recommended casino licenses for Lago Resort & Casino in the Finger Lakes, Montreign Resort Casino in the Catskills and Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady.

The state's Gaming Commission approved regulations at a meeting Thursday that will allow it to formally issue licenses later this fall.