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Tioga Downs gets endorsement for full casino

Bret Jaspers
Tioga Downs in Tioga County.

A full casino is in the cards for the Southern Tier. New York’s Gaming Facility Location Board endorsed a plan from Tioga Downs Wednesday. The venue applied unsuccessfully for a license last year, but state officials say this bid is different.

Just five minutes into Wednesday’s meeting, board chairman Kevin Law delivered the long-awaited “yes." The new facility plans to include slot machines, gaming tables and over 100 hotel rooms.

Tioga Downs applied for one of three casino licenses available last year but lost to locations in Monticello, Schenectady and Seneca County. That frustrated many residents, who felt the Southern Tier had been passed over.

Law defended the decision during the meeting. He said this time around, Tioga Downs’ plan is much stronger.

“This Tioga application commits substantially more equity to the project and decreases debt,” he said. “The increased scope of the project is anticipated to create more construction job opportunities.”

Law estimated that the project would create more than 1000 jobs. He also said it would boost state tax revenue.

“The gaming facility has the potential to capture gaming revenue in-state that may currently be spent in a neighboring state,” he said.

Tioga Downs still has to get a formal license from the state, but this recommendation is what everyone’s been waiting for. A deluge of public support pushed the board toward “yes.” Law said 50 people spoke up at a public meeting, and around 2,000 wrote to the board.

Solvejg Wastvedt grew up in western Pennsylvania and graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Over the summer, she served in Los Angeles as an intern on NPR's National Desk. Plus, before coming to Upstate New York, Solvejg worked at the Minneapolis community radio station KFAI. When she isn't reporting the news, Solvejg enjoys running and exploring hiking trails.