TIOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- The American Red Cross received a major donation to continue its relief efforts from Super Storm Sandy in New York and Long Island.
The organization was presented with more than $200,000 on behalf of Tioga Downs Casino and Vernon Downs Casino Hotel on Friday.
About $60,000 was raised through employee contributions and a donation drive at the two casinos. The casinos’ owner, Jeff Gural, contributed more than $140,000 in matching and personal donations.
About 75 people from the Central New York region have gone to the affected areas to help with the response effort. Leaders with the Red Cross say the money will help with long term recovery efforts.
American Red Cross Central NY Region CEO Rosie Taravella said, "Typically the Red Cross is there for the first few days, providing immediate shelter; but because of the outpouring of support we've seen in this case, we are able to provide longer term support."
Gural and Meadowlands Racetrack also donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross to assist with Sandy relief efforts in New Jersey.
Gural and other officials with the two tracks are also excited about Governor Cuomo's proposal to expand casino gambling in New York State.
He says he agrees with the governor’s call for a more transparent process for gambling policies. He estimates a new casino would take about five years to open, and that if allowed, Tioga Downs could be turned into a casino in as little as a couple of months.
Gural believes New Yorkers could greatly benefit from casino gambling expansion.
"The most important thing for this state and this community here is job creation. The great thing about casinos as opposed to racinos is that you need a dealer, pit boss, someone to collect the money, as opposed to a machine. We employ 300 people, but I’d build a hotel, convention facility, spa and put in table games and poker," said Jeff Gural, American Racing and Entertainment CEO and Owner.
Cuomo’s proposed bill for casinos would allow for up to three in the upstate region north of Westchester County.
The final selection will be made by his gaming commission. All casinos would be built in areas that respect exclusivity rights with Indian tribes.