At a press conference held Friday morning, Dec. 19, 2014 at the Binghamton State Office Building in Binghamton, N.Y., Senator Tom Libous (R-52) announced that he is calling on the New York State Gaming Commission and its appointed Gaming Facility Location Board and Governor Cuomo to reconsider the Southern Tier’s two applications for the fourth authorized casino license, those being Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y. and Traditions’ proposed resort and casino in Johnson City, N.Y.
A decision by the New York State Gaming Location Board on Wednesday, Dec. 17 in Albany, N.Y. selected Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre, N.Y. as the sole recipient of the casino license for the Southern Tier Region. Located midway between Rochester and Syracuse, Lago Resort and Casino’s proposed facility will cost approximately $425 million to construct. Following the decision, several questions have arisen, including the Board’s definition of what they consider the Southern Tier of New York.
Senator Libous opened his press conference by stating, “We were stunned by the Location Board’s decision not to pick one of the ‘true’ Southern Tier sites, Traditions at the Glen or Tioga Downs.”
Libous added, “Instead, they chose Tyre, N.Y., which is closer to the Canadian border than Binghamton. It’s part of the Southern Tier that I’m not familiar with.”
Regarding the decision, Senator Libous commented, “Like many people in this community, we think the decision of the Board was flawed, it was plain wrong, and it really doesn’t make any sense.”
He continued, “I believe that from the beginning the intent of the legislature was to grant four licenses. Only three have been granted. There is a fourth license available. I am asking the Board to reconsider with a new review of the two facilities, Traditions at the Glen and Tioga Downs.”
Referring to the casino license given to Montreign Resort Casino on the grounds of the former storied Concord Hotel in the Catskill’s of Sullivan County, and how that relates to the overall picture of casino locations, Senator Libous commented, “If you look at the Board’s decision about putting a casino in Sullivan County and start at that point and come all the way across the state, there are no casinos. Everything seems to be along the thruway.”
Senator Libous clarified, “But it was their decision. When we wrote the original law we left the decision making process to the Commission and to the Board and wanted to keep politics out of it because every other state where politics was involved, there were issues that took place that were not good and not healthy for the states or its citizens. Our intent from the beginning was to not have politics a part of this process. I assure you if it was, one of the two Southern Tier sites would have been selected.”
However, with Senator Libous requesting a reconsideration of the applications for Traditions at the Glen and Tioga Downs, politics is now in play.
Libous responded, “I represent the Southern Tier. This is my priority and this is what I care about and we got the short end of the stick. I think it’s that important that we put the pressure on the Board.”
Libous also mentioned speaking to many local officials and stated, “I know that we will have the support of local officials that I have spoken with.”
The subject of missing out on the opportunity of job creation was a highlight of the press conference. Libous shared, “We need the jobs. This part of the state has been hurting for some time and there is a fourth license that is available. I’m not saying that a casino is the fix to all the problems, but this is an opportunity.”
If the New York State Gaming Commission and Board and Governor consider applications for re-submittal from Traditions at the Glen and Tioga Downs, then other applicants not chosen may step up to seek reconsideration. In a question and answer session, Libous responded, “They may say that they have to do that.”
Senator Libous shared that he had plans to call New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday afternoon, Dec. 19, regarding his request, thoughts and concerns.
As of this reporting, we have not received word on the results of that conversation, and may not learn of any consideration in the immediate future. In the meantime, it was made clear by Libous that the Board could have considered the ‘true’ Southern Tier for the fourth license that was originally on the table.
You can hear his message here: