LBANY (AP) - New York’s Southern Tier may get a casino after all after a state board voted Tuesday to reopen the bidding process for a casino in the region.
Only one contender has announced plans to apply for a license in the area along the Pennsylvania border, but state gambling officials say they hope more bidders will step forward.
Last month, the board tasked with picking the locations of up to four upstate casinos balked at two proposals from the Southern Tier. Local leaders objected and Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a new bidding process limited to the Southern Tier.
Kevin Law, chairman of the Gambling Facility Location Board, said he hopes for a competitive selection process.
“I am sympathetic to the economic struggles facing the Southern Tier,” Law said. “If private individuals and private companies are willing to invest their own money, I am open minded. What I’m not open minded about is simply recommending the same application that we’ve already passed on.”
Yet so far, Tioga Downs racino in Nichols, whose proposal failed to win over the board in the first round of bidding, is the only contender. The board expressed concerns about Tioga’s financing plan, but owner Jeff Gural said last week that he would submit a revised plan if bidding was reopened.
The developers behind the second proposal in the Southern Tier are now backing Tioga Downs.
Tuesday’s decision to reopen the bidding kicks off another potentially lengthy process in which applications are carefully reviewed before the board makes its recommendation. The pick is subject to approval by the state’s Gaming Commission, and it’s possible the board could choose not to recommend any application.
Up to four casino licenses were authorized to be located among three state regions: the Albany-Saratoga area, the mid-Hudson Valley and Catskills region, and the Finger Lakes-Southern Tier. The board recommended licenses for projects in the Catskills, Schenectady and the Finger Lakes. The fourth license was withheld.
Developers behind some of the other failed bids had urged the location board to consider applications from their regions. On Tuesday, the board rejected that request, saying it stood by its decisions in the other regions and was only open to allowing a fourth casino in the Southern Tier.
“Let’s see what else - and who else - may propose a casino in the region,” Law said. “I hope we’ll have a competition.”