2009-10-09 / Top Stories

Stretch-Drive For Racino Bidders

By Howard Schwach

Sources say that Governor David Paterson is meeting with advisors and decision makers before making a final decision on which high-roller will get the go-ahead to build a video Racino at Aqueduct. The governor said that he is asking the New York Racing Authority and the people who run the state lottery to look at a number of the proposals. A source close to the governor said that he and his staff have whittled the seven proposals down to four, and those four are the ones being sent to other state agencies for vetting.

The source, however, did not know which of the proposals have made the final cut. While nobody in authority is talking, the four names most often mentioned by sources in Albany are SI Green, Manhattan's largest landlord; Steve Wynn's billion-dollar gambling empire; Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which reportedly has close ties to local politicians; and Aqueduct Gaming. The final two are partnerships made just for this proposal.

Last month, word came from the Governor's office that a decision on the multi-million dollar gambling proposal would be made by Labor Day.

With Labor Day come and gone, it is unclear just when the decision will be made. Keeping the decision date secret is in line with how the rest of the process has been handled by Paterson, State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the three men who will make the final decision. The bidding process has been kept closed to the press and the public from the beginning, ever since the state asked for new bids in July. A previous bidding process died when the chosen company, Delaware North, could not come up with the front-money it had promised the state. Delaware North is again one of the bidders, but experts say that it is unlikely it will get a second chance at the project. Some of the bidders recently doubled their bids, insiders say.

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