Despite coming up short on its projected revenue, officials remain optimistic about the future of Tioga Downs Casino. Tioga County is on pace to receive 30 percent less revenue than it originally expected. But as Vince Briga explains, the legislative chair says any dollar that comes into the region is an added benefit.
TIOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- When Tioga Downs was granted a full casino gaming license last year, surrounding communities rejoiced at the promise of tax revenue boosts.
Tioga County was projected to receive $1.6 million, but it's now on pace to receive around 30 percent less. But officials say there's no reason to worry.
Despite the projections, the legislature chose not to roll the dice, and did not include the casino as part of their annual operating budget.
"Whatever money comes in goes now into our capital reserve fund, which will be used for buildings and equipment, that kind of thing. So overall, in the end, the cost of running government will benefit all of the taxpayers," said Tioga County Legislative Chair Martha Sauerbrey.
That means the $1.15 million that the county is on pace to receive will all be profit. The state had actually originally projected the county would receive $800,000. As a result, the legislature chose to budget just $500,000.
This means a profit of more than double what they expected.
"It is something that we didn't plan. Tioga Downs now has grown over the years," said Sauerbrey. "We all got in the game and helped them lobby New York State to get that designation, and we do anticipate more income coming."
The revenue is just one way Tioga County is benefiting. Owner Jeff Gural says the casino will soon have created nearly 1,000 jobs.
"Between the construction jobs and the other jobs, anyone who doesn't consider the program a success is foolish," said Sauerbrey.
Gural says increasing revenue is going to take drawing in visitors from outside of Tioga County. In just a few weeks, the casino plans to open a new hotel with that exact goal in mind.
"My project isn't finished, unlike the others. I believe that when all of those things happen, we'll be able to attract people from outside the neighborhood," said Gural.
In Broome County, officials projected $2.2 million in tax revenue, but they'll be receiving $3.2 million.
As far as general casino revenue goes, Tioga Downs is on pace to receive nearly $70 million. Their original projection was $103 million.