Upstate Racino Owner Talks Woodstock 50, Sports Betting

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – Racino owner Jeff Gural’s businesses have been in the news a lot lately. Gural owns both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Notably, he also runs Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

Jeff Gural at Tioga Downs in 2015. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File.

Gural was disappointed when the Town of Vernon refused to host the Woodstock 50 festival. Organizers hoped to move the music festival to Vernon Downs, in Oneida County. Gural believes it would’ve been an economic boost for that small, rural community.

“Vernon is not a thriving metropolis, if you’ve ever been there. It’s kind of a depressed town,” he said. “And I thought it’d be a good thing, but they prefer to keep it a sleepy little town.”

Gural thinks Woodstock could’ve brought 30,000 people to the area. That’s about half the attendance predicted by organizers and far less than the 150,000 expected in Watkins Glen. Officials there rejected the event in June after numerous delays and alleged mismanagement.

With just a month to go before the concert was set to start, the Vernon town board denied an application. Local officials said there simply wasn’t enough time to prepare properly for the concert.

Meanwhile, at another one of Gural’s upstate businesses, sports betting is now available.

Tioga Downs in Nichols began taking wagers on sporting events this month. He said this puts his business on par with casinos in Nevada. “Now we can say that we offer everything you can get if you went to a casino in Las Vegas. So, it’s just another amenity,” Gural explained.

Several states expanded sports betting after a Supreme Court ruling last year declared a federal ban on it unconstitutional.

Gural said it’s “ridiculous” gaming hasn’t expanded more in New York into new media, such as mobile devices.

He expects his sports betting operation at Tioga Downs will boom once football season starts.