Tioga Downs Casino & Racing will have its ground breaking ceremony this week now that the New York Gaming Facility Location Board has selected it to be the state’s final full casino and recommended it be granted a license. If the Gaming Commission formally awards the casino a license later this year, Jeff Gural, the nine-year-old racino’s owner can convert his facility into a $195 million regional entertainment destination upon clearing an extensive background check.

The Southern Tier video casino and racetrack’s application was rejected by the state board last year when four casino licenses were available. Only three proposals were approved, one in the Catskills and Schenectady, and one in the Finger Lakes area. After complaints from community members, Nichols officials and Gural inundated the board for being left out, the Gaming Facility Location Board re-launched the bidding as Governor Andrew Cuomo recommended the fourth license be made available.

A Friday groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Tioga Downs’ multi-million dollar expansion and owner Jeff Grual plans on investing his own money in the conversion which will include a concert venue and a 161-room hotel. The nod confirms the community and civic leader’s belief that the project would give the struggling region a much needed economic boost. Within six months of receiving a gaming license Grual wants to have table games in operation at Tioga.

According to Gural, who also owns the majority of Vernon Downs in Vernon Central New York, a full casino at Tioga Downs, which is approximately 30 miles west of Binghamton, will increase revenues at both facilities.