2010-06-18 / Top Stories

Malaysian Group Bids For Aqueduct Racino

By Howard Schwach

While they don’t typically rerun races at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, a race to see who will run the lucrative gambling Racino planned for the track was started anew two weeks ago after Governor David Paterson, in the wake of a federal probe into his decision to give the nod to the politically-connected Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG), pulled the plug on the group.

Six bidders, including one of the largest casino operators in the world, sprung out of the starting gate in the race to operate 4,500 video slot machines at Aqueduct.

Representatives from the gaming industry appeared at a bidders’ conference sponsored by the state Lottery Division at the Queens track.

In the running are: SL Green-Hard Rock International; Empire City Gaming Yonkers Raceway; Delaware North-Saratoga Raceway; Penn National Gaming; Genting; and Clairvest.

Clairvest was part of the controversial AEG consortium whose winning bid was disqualified in the last goround following accusations of favoritism and licensing problems.

The Malaysian-based group, with headquarters in Manhattan, financed the launch of the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, recently acquired controlling interest in the Empire Resorts, which operates the Monticello Casino and Racetrack in the Catskill Mountains and poured more than $200 million into Atlantic City’s Mirage Casino.

It runs the world’s largest gambling casino in Malaysia and is the largest casino operator in Great Britain.

Bidders faced new upfront costs of $300 million to help bail out the state’s ailing horse-racing industry.

The winning bidder would have to assume payment of a $25 million loan to the cash-starved New York Racing Association and pay it an additional $2 million per month even before the Racino opens, experts say.

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