New York’s Gaming Commission took steps on Monday towards the formal issuance of licenses for commercial, Las Vegas-style resort casinos. The process included a formal regulations review, southern tier application acceptance, and the near completion of State Police background checks for the potential operational license holders. Executive Director Robert Williams announced the release of a package of regulations for review. Once the requisite 45-day public comment period ends, the rules could be formally adopted as early as September 30.

It is estimated that New York loses $1 to $3 billion dollars in gambling revenue to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Canada. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 expanding casino gambling to include commercial casino resort development. The amendment was created to help revitalize struggling upstate regions and to reclaim those gambling dollars.

The commission created a Gaming Facility Location Board [GFLB] to select optimum locations for revenue generation, and it’s members recommended three casino projects last December. But in March, the board announced it would accept another round of applications for the Southern Tier, By Monday’s deadline, they had only received one submission.

Jeff Gural, CEO of American Racing and Entertainment and owner of Tioga Downs racino, submitted the application. It includes a $145 million expansion of his current facility, increases full time employment from 500 to 1,000 people, adds a hotel, two restaurants, gaming tables, and 200 additional electronic gaming machines, and expands and upgrades the golf course.

The new bid also promises to increase Tioga’s contributions to $1.5 million a year. This would include channeling $1 million into a fund to help regional nonprofits grow and expand, and another $500,000 into an annual fund that would help new and small businesses in the region.

The siting board members late last year approved licenses for Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County; the Montreign Resort Casino in Thompson, Sullivan County; and the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady. Gaming officials further announced that the requisite New York State background checks for GFLB sanctioned applicants is nearing completion.

After submitting Tioga Down’s application for expansion, owner Gural stated, “We could be hiring people almost immediately, assuming we get the license by the end of the year. We could be celebrating the Fourth of July next year in the new casino.”

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