2010-06-04 / Top Stories

Six Bidders In High-Stakes Aqueduct Game

Six companies have thrown their hats in the ring in an attempt to win the right to run the gambling Racino at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park. Six companies have thrown their hats in the ring in an attempt to win the right to run the gambling Racino at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park. A half-dozen companies have thrown their hats into the ring in the latest round of bidding to become the developer and operator of the Aqueduct Racino, a gambling facility with more than 2,000 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs).

The last bidding process fell apart late last year, when the state’s Lottery Commission ruled that the consortium picked by Governor David Paterson, the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, was “unlicensable,” because a number of its investors, including Queens political powerhouse the Reverend Floyd Flake, would not provide documentation that the commission required.

There is an ongoing investigation by the state’s inspector general into the selection of AEG.

As anticipated, previous losing bidders in the earlier round — Manhattan’s largest commercial landlord SL Green; Penn National Gaming; and Delaware North & Saratoga Gaming and Raceway —rounded out the other parties that submitted the entry fee by the June 1 deadline.

None of the six bidders could be reached immediately for comment.

The latest request for proposals included provisions that prohibit public comment on the bidding, as well as lobbying, to avoid issues that arose during the selection of AEG, observers noted.

Sources said the losing bidders were frustrated because the new RFP allowed new bidders to step in with the knowledge of the previous bidders’ financials and bids. In response to numerous complaints about a lack of transparency in the selection process, Paterson posted all bidders’ information on his website.

The Lottery Division will score bidders and present recommendations to Paterson and legislative leaders for final approval. Unlike the previous round, however, sources say Paterson will be bound by Lottery’s pick this time. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson will also have to sign off on the recommendation.

Next up in the RFP process, bidders must attend a mandatory information conference on June 8. All proposals are due by June 29. Bidders are required to make a minimum $300 million upfront payment.

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