The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Mixed reviews for potential casino fees

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $1 million fee to apply for a casino license and $50 million casino license fee are receiving mixed reviews.

Jeff Gural, the owner of two racinos, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs, had been hoping to compete for a casino license. He had plans to bring live-table games to Tioga, which is in the Southern Tier zone created by the governor's regional map for the three upstate casinos.

But the fees in Cuomo's proposal casino legislation have him singing another tune.

"I could not pay the $50 million," Gural said in an email on Friday. While the fee was too high for him to consider pursuing a casino license at Tioga, he couldn't speak for what made sense to other racino owners vying for live-table games.

Gambling expert Steve Rittvo said the fees were fair considering the 25 percent tax rate on table games and exclusivity provisions included in the governor's bill.

He said the fees were comparable to Pennsylvania, but less that Maryland and much less than Massachusetts.

"A million application fee might be a little steep but in the scheme of things [it] is really fine," Ritvo wrote in an email on Friday. "It keeps the [not serious] players out and provides very adequate funds to investigate the potential bidders."

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