Tioga Downs is a county-fair-themed standardbred racetrack (5/8 mile) and racino located on a 138-acre site in Nichols, New York.
Tioga Downs originally was a quarterhorse track known as "Tioga Park" in 1976, closing down after its third season. James Nuckel, then owner, stated that, "the track had been losing thousands of dollars a day and was still in the red after three years of operation" (New York Times, 1978). Thereafter, a few private races and the occasional flea market were held at the location.
In 2000, Jeffrey Gural, a real-estate executive, horse owner, and racing enthusiast, began lobbying for state approval of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) at racetracks. In 2005, they were approved. Shortly after Mr. Gural, with partnership from Nevada Gold and Casinos, bought the old Tioga Park for $32 Million (New York Times, 2006; Press and Sun Bulletin, 2006). A ground-breaking ceremony was held July 22, 2005.
On June 9, 2006, Tioga Downs opened, offering in addition to harness racing, simulcast betting, and over 750 VLTs. Tioga Downs has two bars, a Subway(TM) restaurant, banquet room, coffee/bakery shop, and buffet. It also has a stage area, which hosts concerts. Artists that appeared at Tioga Downs have included Chubby Checker, Vanilla Ice, Joan Jett, and Sister Sledge. During the warmer months, a trackside tent is available for wedding receptions, business meetings, parties, and awards' ceremonies.
Tioga Downs has 775 VLTs. The racino offers player's club cards at two levels: progressive and jackpot. Outside the gaming room Quick Draw(TM) and instant lottery tickets are available. Inside the racino, keno, video poker, and video slot machines are available. More recently, reel-based slot machines have come into existence. The largest progressive currently offered is $350,000+ at a group of 2-cent Hot Shot machines.
Tioga Downs schedules racing between May and September, typically on Friday and Saturday evenings (6:50 PM), and 1:30 PM on Sundays. The track record is 1:50.0, set in 2007, by "Tarver Hanover," an Aged Mare.
Owner Jeff Gural has announced plans to build a hotel, convention center and shopping plaza on the grounds of Tioga Downs. However, no concrete plans have been announced or approved by local authorities. In 2010-2011, a waste water treatment plant is planned as well as the largest flea market in the Northeast. (Reference needed)