In a report published by the Times Union in Albany (www.timesunion.com) on Tuesday, Jan. 6, it was noted that the State’s Gaming Commission is “reviewing” a recent request made by Governor Andrew Cuomo to consider awarding a casino gaming license to what the governor, among others, is referring to as the “true” Southern Tier.
On Dec. 17, the commission’s Gaming Facility Location Board recommended three casino gaming licenses be awarded in New York State versus the four that was originally built into Proposition One, which allowed voters to approve this type of gaming in New York State to begin with.
The Proposition passed in the “true” Southern Tier region; but was defeated in the area, Tyre, N.Y., where the one license was granted in what has been termed recently as the “Finger Lakes / Southern Tier”, “Eastern Southern Tier”, etc.
The two other contenders in the Southern Tier vying for a gaming license, who had many dollars and a lot of time at stake in applying for the license were Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs and the Walsh family, owners of Traditions at the Glen; so the selection of Tyre, N.Y. was a blow to these other two players, and offered a huge punch to the Southern Tier Region whose unemployment rate in Broome and Tioga Counties is close to 1 percentage point higher than that of Seneca County, where Tyre, N.Y. is located, and according to a political blog written by Michael Vass (http://www.mvass.com/2014/12/28/southern-tier-in-running-for-casino-again-but-why-the-initial-snub/comment-page-1/) in December.
And the ball is now in the Gaming Commission’s court, who is tasked to approve the recommendations made by their site selection committee for resort and casino proposals for Montreign in Sullivan County; Rivers in Schenectady County; and Lago in Tyre, Seneca County – which was selected as the Southern Tier Region pick.
The Times Union report also drew attention to the location of Tyre, N.Y., quoting Greg Biryla, spokesman for Unshackle Upstate, a Rochester-based economic development group as stating, “That’s a Finger Lakes casino.”
Since the location board’s recommendation was made on Dec. 17, Traditions at the Glen in Broome County and Tioga Downs in Tioga County have partnered to bring a license to the “true” Southern Tier, a request that was bolstered by State Senator Tom Libous (R-52), who is a representative of both counties, and then later Governor Andrew Cuomo, who swiftly requested that the Gaming Commission reconsider a re-bid for a fourth license in the Southern Tier Region.
Jeff Gural operates Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y., which is located within two-miles of the Pennsylvania border. Tioga Downs also subsidizes Vernon Downs in Verona, N.Y., which is located near the proposed Tyre build.
The decision that was made, ultimately, could hurt the Vernon track financially, as well as several other casinos located in the region surrounding Tyre, N.Y.
Gural also runs the Meadowlands harness track in New Jersey.
It is not known, at the time of this reporting, when the Gaming Commission will render some sort of decision.
In a recent Tweet by the Gaming Commission, it was noted that their next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 26, but an agenda has not yet been released.