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Tioga Downs Promotes Casino Referendum

The owner of Tioga Downs Racino in Nichols is urging voters to approve a referendum that could lead to it becoming a full-fledged casino.
The owner of Tioga Downs Racino in Nichols is urging voters to approve a referendum that could lead to it becoming a full-fledged casino.

A measure on the November 5th ballot would amend the New York State constitution to allow seven non-Indian casinos to be created in designated portions of Upstate. Tioga Downs CEO Jeff Gural says the state has designated that the negotiated licensing fee paid by selected operators would benefit both the state education department and be used to offset local property taxes. And having a casino would allow him to finance a hotel and conference center.

"It's a jobs bill. The difference from just having slot machines, it's great we employ about 300 people, but those machines are electronic. Table games have be done manually with a dealer," said Gural.

Gural estimates that building the hotel and an indoor parking garage would provide about 300 temporary construction jobs, while his overall operation would add another 200. He says he's running the risk that the referendum passes, but Tioga Downs is not selected by the state to operate a casino. Meanwhile referendum opponents have argued that many casino jobs are low-paying and that gambling addictions will increase.
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