- Associated Press - Thursday, December 1, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Tioga Downs Casino will open to the public Friday, the first of four new gambling halls launching in upstate New York amid an increasingly saturated gambling market.

The racetrack and electronic gambling hall in Nichols received state permission to expand into a full resort casino last year. Tioga will feature 33 table games like poker and blackjack and 944 slot machines.

“This has been a long journey,” said owner Jeffrey Gural.

“We have created a lot of additional jobs, revenue and opportunity,” he said.

Local and state officials predicted upstate casinos would be a boon for communities that have long struggled in the face of shuttered factories and decreasing population. But the new facilities will launch into a saturated gambling market that has seen casinos in Atlantic City close.

Other casino projects are close to completion and expect to open in 2017: Montreign Resort Casino in Sullivan County in the Catskills; Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady; and del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County in the Finger Lakes.

Tioga Downs, west of Binghamton, was the last of the four casinos to receive a state license, but it will be the first to open. It was initially rejected for a casino license in 2014 when a state casino siting commission picked the other three facilities. Tioga succeeded on its second try last year.

Tioga Downs is in the Southern Tier, a broad swath of south-central New York nestled against Pennsylvania that was once home to a large manufacturing presence.

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