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Tioga Downs only bidder for Southern Tier casino

Bret Jaspers
Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs, spoke last week in front of a truck loaded with his application for a full casino license. The truck then left to deliver the documents to the Gaming Facility Location Board.


The contest for a full casino license in the Southern Tier is now in the review stage and Tioga Downs in Tioga County is the only bidder.

Tioga Downs is a “racino,” a combination of harness racing and slot machines. Owner Jeff Gural wants to add table games, which is allowed with a state license. Gural competed in last year’s contest for a full casino license, but lost. The New York Gaming Facility Location Board instead awarded full licenses to projects in Schenectady, the Catskills and the town of Tyre, between Rochester and Syracuse.

Speaking to reporters at Tioga Downs last week, Gural said he addressed the financing and design concerns that the board had with his last proposal.

“Basically anything that I could fix I fixed,” he said. “Can’t tear the place down and start from scratch.”

One piece of good news for Gural came over the weekend: a bid for a casino in the city of Binghamton fizzled after investors reportedly withdrew support.

Despite being the only bidder, a full casino license for Tioga Downs is not a sure thing. The board could award a license -- or zero licenses -- by the fall.