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Casino hopes still alive in the Southern Tier

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The Southern Tier will get another opportunity to land a casino in hopes that it will bring jobs and economic growth to the region. At a meeting in New York City Tuesday night, the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board voted 5-0 to again consider applications from developers in the region who want to open a full-service casino.

The board recommended three casino projects for licenses in December, but none of the winners were in the Southern Tier. It was a tough defeat. Lawmakers and voters amended the state constitution in 2013 to allow table gaming, in part as an economic development strategy. Losing bidders around the state complained about the process, but Board Chairman Kevin Law said Tuesday that he stands by their work. "There was always gonna be winners and losers," he said.  "This is not modern-day Little League where everyone goes home with a trophy."

But at least one region will get a second chance at bat. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the panel last month asking it to open a new contest for a license specifically in the Southern Tier. The Board agreed, but made it clear they want brand new proposals and that there is still a chance the region will walk away empty handed.

Jeff Gural is chairman of American Racing and Entertainment. He submitted a proposal last time for a full casino at Tioga Downs in Nichols and intends to try again. But he says that because the market is smaller than other regions, he can’t propose a big project. "You can't just go and spend $300, $400 million just to win the bid and then go broke," he said. "So obviously it's gotta make some sense."

The board will release a more specific report on their December decisions in the coming weeks. No date was announced for when a Request for Applications (RFA) would be issued for new proposals.

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