2010-07-09 / Top Stories

Aqueduct Racino Becomes One-Horse Race

By Howard Schwach

The Aqueduct Racetrack Casino would have more than 2,000 video lottery terminals such as these. The Aqueduct Racetrack Casino would have more than 2,000 video lottery terminals such as these. Now there’s only one horse in the race to run the lucrative video lottery terminals at the planned Aqueduct Racino as the State Lottery Division abruptly kicked out two of the three remaining bidders.

In a stunning move, the lottery division tossed out the bids from Penn National Gaming and the powerhouse S.L Green-Hard Rock partnership, leaving only Malaysian gaming giant Genting in the running. In a long press release provided to The Wave on Wednesday, lottery officials said that neither of the two organizations that were tossed out of the process “conformed with the requirements of the competition.” “The Genting proposal appears to conform with all the requirements of the bid submission process and will continue to be evaluated,” said lottery director Gordon Medencia.

“If Genting is not ultimately approved, the bidding process would have to be started all over again,” Medencia added.

The loss of the two American bidders is another setback for the process, which has been dragging on for more than ten years.

Governor David Paterson scrapped one bidding process when the winner, Delaware North, could not come up with the front money that the state demanded. In a later process, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, fronted by powerful Queens pol Floyd Flake, was declared the winner, but the group’s choice was widely derided as “political,” and eventually the lottery division decided that AEG was “unlicensable.”

Genting is Asia’s largest casino operator and recently took control of the Empire Resorts gaming facility in Monticello, in upstate New York.

In its release, the lottery commission said that the two disqualified bidders “attempted to negotiate for terms more favorable to the bidders.”

According to the commission, that included guarantees that they could bow out if they lost money and a promise that there would be no new casinos or other gambling facilities allowed within 50 miles of Aqueduct.

“If Genting is not approved, neither S.L. Green nor Penn National will be eligible for reconsideration because of their failure to conform to the requirements,” a lottery spokesperson said.

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