Tioga Downs Casino was officially expanded into a full-scale resort on Friday when an adjacent 161-room hotel opened doors. The Nichols, New York-based property thus became the third commercial hotel and casino complex to become operational in the state this year.
Tioga Downs’ casino was launched last December, featuring Las Vegas-style gambling with slot machines and table games. The property had previously operated only as a racetrack with gaming machines.
As mentioned above, the new hotel features 161 rooms over six floors. It also includes different food and beverage options and convention facilities. A new clubhouse with a golf course was also unveiled as part of the expanded Tioga Downs Casino & Resort. That particular facility cost over $4 million, according to reports from local media.
Commenting on the Friday opening of the hotel, Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural said that they expect that the facility will boost activity and visits and will thus bring further growth to the casino.
The hotel opening ceremony was attended by New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who said that the new facility could become a popular destination resort that would bring tourists and would offer them not only casino entertainment, but also excellent experience at its dining facilities. The official also pointed out that Tioga Downs Casino & Resort could additionally turn into a popular convention destination, as well.
Tioga Downs was one of four commercial casino projects to be approved by the New York government and gambling regulators. Any form of gambling expansion in the state requires a constitutional amendment which first needs to be approved by lawmakers and voters. State residents approved the construction of commercial Las Vegas-style properties in 2013.
Tioga Downs was actually the last property to be given the nod by New York casino officials, but the first to open doors last December.
Revenue Forecasts and Actual Results
The state’s casino expansion was supported by many as it was hoped to bring additional revenue and create multiple new jobs. However, the move also had vocal opponents who claimed that the new gambling venues would not produce new revenue but would cannibalize money from existing properties and from one another instead.
It was also pointed out that the Upstate New York casino market, where all four resorts are planned to be located, might be oversaturated already as it is currently home to a number of racetracks and tribal casinos.
Tioga Downs Casino received its first players last December, almost precisely a year from today. The gambling venue was expected to generate revenue of $103 million during its first year of operation. According to information from the New York State Gaming Commission, the casino generated nearly $70 million in the period between its launch and November 26, 2017. In other words, Tioga Downs Casino is more than $30 million behind its projected full-year revenue.
Asked about his comments on the venue’s failure to meet initial forecasts, Mr. Gural said that it was still a major success from an economic development perspective. The businessman also added that Tioga Downs Casino still generates more revenue for the state than it did back in its days as a racino.
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