January 13, 2015

If at First You Don't Succeed

Gamble, gamble again.

According to a report this evening, the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) will reopen the bidding for the 'true' Southern Tier region, the part of the region that's currently home to Tioga Downs. The part that's not the future home of Lago, a casino resort that was awarded the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes region's rights on the first roll of the dice last year.

You'll recall that the GFLB was asked to reopen the bidding process by Governor Cuomo; he made his request not long after the decision to bypass our neighbors to the south and only award three licenses - Sullivan County, Schenectady, and the Town of Tyre -- instead of four. And, right after Cuomo's experts announced the decision that fracking would not be allowed, also a blow to the Southern Tier.

While some folks, including the Sonofa Gov, believe that there could be bidders other than Tioga Downs, it seems unlikely that will happen.  Already the Binghamton area has ceded the floor to Tioga and will not complete; the thought that there would be a dark horse bidder coming out of nowhere, with a site and a plan and community buy-in and all the rest, seems like a pipe dream.

So, what happens if the re-worked bid from Tioga still doesn't pass muster?  I'm not sure that the GFLB is obligated to offer a license to the Southern Tier; after all, Cuomo has noted that he has nothing to do with the process and that it's entirely up to the Board to make their decision on the merits.  He just asked them to take another look at the merits, that's all.

Jeff Gural, developer of Tioga Downs, has said it was his 'bad job' explaining the financing that kept him from winning the bid in the first place, and moreover he seems to feel that he was used by Cuomo:
The governor asked me to spend $800,000 of my money to pass Proposition One, and then the intent was that there would be a casino in the Southern Tier. That's what he said to me, he came to Binghamton and said it, and now they put it up by Lake Ontario. I feel like a complete fool to be honest with you.
If the bid doesn't fly this time, Gural goes back to running his racino, the bad taste still in his mouth. More importantly thought, what's next for the true Southern Tier?