NICHOLS, N.Y. — Tioga Downs Casino opened for business on Friday afternoon after the New York State Gaming Commission gave the facility final approval earlier in the week.
The state Gaming Commission had previously granted Tioga Downs a commercial gaming license in late August.
Jeffrey Gural, chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, LLC, spoke during a formal-opening event early Friday afternoon to officially open the new casino.
“This has been a long journey, but one that I have stated from the beginning is an important one for the people of the Southern Tier. We have created a lot of additional jobs, revenue and opportunity for the region as well as benefitting local businesses and nonprofit organizations,” Gural said in a company news release issued Wednesday. “I am so appreciative of our local and state officials, as well as Southern Tier community for the overwhelming support of the project that helped it come to fruition. It would not have been possible without their help.”
Besides Tioga Downs, Gural also owns Vernon Downs in Vernon.
The opening of the new gaming area comes just over three years after New York voters approved a proposal that authorized the state to issue a limited number of commercial gaming licenses throughout New York, the company said in its news release.
After an unsuccessful first bid for the Southern Tier license in 2014, Tioga Downs and community leaders led a campaign to re-open the bidding process to allow for the awarding of one additional license “to the true Southern Tier.”
Tioga Downs had been competing with Traditions Resort and Casino in the town of Union for the Southern Tier license that the New York Gaming Facility Location Board instead awarded to what is now the del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County in the Finger Lakes area.
Gural and Tioga Downs held a news conference on Dec. 22, 2014 to announce that Traditions would back an expansion at Tioga Downs in pursuit of a gaming license that would benefit the Southern Tier.
A few days later on Dec. 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the New York State Gaming Commission to reopen the bidding for a gaming license in the Southern Tier.
The request was granted and after a second bid process, the state formally granted Tioga Downs its full gaming license on Aug. 30 earlier this year.
Since that time, construction crews and Tioga Downs employees have been working on first-phase additions to the property to get the casino open.
As Gural had “originally promised,” Tioga Downs will be the first property awarded a gaming license under the legislation to open its casino doors despite having to go through a second bid process, the company said.
Del Lago Resort & Casino plans to open its doors to the public on Feb. 1, 2017 in Tyre in Seneca County.
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