A week after detailed misconduct allegations sank his governorship, Andrew Cuomo faces fresh accusations from the real estate sector on his way out of office.
Developer Jeff Gural, owner of the Tioga Downs casino in the Southern Tier and — until recently — a prominent real estate backer of the outgoing governor, alleged that Cuomo “ran a criminal operation,” during his time in office, according to the Times-Union.
Gural’s accusation, made in remarks at a gaming industry conference Tuesday, referred to bidding for the first three casino operating licenses in the state after casino gambling was legalized in 2014, a process Gural says was “rigged.”
Gural alleges that Cuomo’s office privately spread rumors that Gural was going to receive one of the licenses in order to alleviate opposition to a competing bid. When the selection time came, Gural alleges an opposing bid then received the license, leaving Gural in the dust.
“I think they had some scheme up their sleeve, as to who would be the winners and who would be the losers — with me being the loser,” Gural said Tuesday, according to the Times-Union.
Gural claims he learned of the alleged misdeeds from a gamblinge executive at the hospitality firm Delaware North. Incoming governor Kathy Hochul’s husband, coincidentally, is a vice president there, creating concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
A spokesman from Cuomo’s office denied Gural’s allegations, claiming Gural was “a malcontent who is criticizing a highly transparent process that ultimately awarded Tioga Downs a casino license after it increased its investment.”
Gural and his wife made $191,000 in campaign contributions to Cuomo since 2011, according to the Times-Union, as well as a $375,000 donation to the effort to legalize casino gambling in the state. Their relationship soured recently, though, due to Cuomo’s position on the emerging online sports betting industry in the state.
“I can’t wait for him to resign,” Gural told The Real Deal earlier this month. “I think he’s a bully.”
[Times-Union] — Holden Walter-Warner