Casino applicants gamble with 1 million dollar fee

Courtesy of Wilmot Casino and Resort
April 23, 2014

Applicants hoping to win a casino license have laid their bids on the table. Three applicants in the Southern Tier have paid the million-dollar application fee.

The businessmen behind the three casino applications know what it means to gamble.

Jeff Gural owns Tioga Downs and is hoping to expand his horseracing operation into a full-fledged casino.

“So it’s a gamble but I still think we have the best proposal. We have the best location. And I am hopeful that we’ll win,” says Gural.

During interviews with all three applicants, each one said the same thing: We’re the best and we’re going to win.

Bill Walsh owns Traditions in Johnson City.

“There is no question we fit the criteria better then anyone else out there. So we’re confident that our location hands down can win this thing,” says Walsh.

And Steven Greenberg, a spokesman for the Wilmot Corporation, is just as confident their proposal for a site in Tyre will be successful.

“They are in it to win it,” says Greenberg.

Odds are, only one license will come to the Southern Tier. So two of the applicants will be sorely disappointed.  And lose out on their million-dollar bet.

State officials say they will return any unused portion of the million-dollar fee after reviewing the proposals, but none of the applicants are expecting any refunds if they lose. 

For a while, it looked like there would be a fourth applicant. The Vista Hospitality Group was planning to build a casino in Downtown Binghamton but withdrew recently.

Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural was critical of the remaining applicants. He says the Wilmot application in Seneca County will only draw customers from his racetrack.

Wilmot’s spokesman, Steven Greenberg, says their proposal isn’t out to hurt anybody.

“This facility intends to draw from the Rochester area, from the Syracuse area, from people in downstate New York, from people outside of the state or even the country, from Canada and beyond,” says Greenberg.

Gural also says the Tradition site in Johnson City won’t work because the area can’t handle the traffic a casino would bring.

Traditions owner Bill Walsh welcomes the traffic.

“We want that traffic to come by the existing businesses that are here so they can benefit from it,” says Walsh. 

Now that the money is in, the applicants will finalize their proposals before the June 30th deadline. The gaming commission is set to announce their decision in the fall.