Tioga Downs Wins Big in Cuomo's Budget Plan

By Kelly McCarthy

February 8, 2013 Updated Feb 8, 2013 at 7:57 PM EDT

Nichols, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The owner of Tioga Downs is putting his money on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state budget, which includes opportunities for gambling in upstate New York.

Jeff Gural says he's already planning on making improvements to the Nichols racino -- but that's only if the the gaming committee in May votes to allow casino licenses.

Cuomo's plan, introduced last month, 90 percent of gambling money will go toward education and 10 percent to localities.

Gural says Tioga Downs could make the improvements to become a casino faster and cheaper than building a casino somewhere else.

"I think the governor correctly pointed out that we have a leg up because this place here could convert to being a casino in a couple of months," Gural said.

Gural says if he gets the approval for one of the seven casino licenses available statewide, he will immediately begin a $60 million to $70 million expansion.

"If I see an indication that it's likely that we would get one of the licenses I would go ahead and build a hotel immediately," Gural said. "I think we would add another 150-200 jobs, with the hotel, poker, and casino."

His plans include a 135-room hotel, spa and poker tables.

An amendment to New York State's constitution allowing table games is not expected to be considered until 2014. First, an amendment needs to be passed by the state legislature and then approved by voters.