2010-07-16 / Top Stories

Ritzy Racino Plans Revealed

AEG Sues State For Wrongly Disqualifying Bid
By Howard Schwach

Genting plans a glitzy Racino facility at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park. Genting plans a glitzy Racino facility at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park. The only horse left in the onehorse race to run the lucrative Racino at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park has revealed its plans, which many say rival the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

According to the plans revealed this week by Genting New York, the American arm of the Malaysian gambling giant, the Racino will encompass 400,000 square feet, with a high-end restaurant, an event center, an upscale Chinese restaurant and a football field-sized space for social functions and corporate events.

It will also include a 450-seat food court, an outdoor terrace that seats 10,000 people and parking for 2,200 cars. And, of course, a 75-foot water- fall. All that, in addition to 4,500 video slot machines. Genting says that the Racino will be up and running six months after getting approval from the state’s Lottery Commission and legislative leaders.

The plans were submitted as part of Genting’s bid, the only one left after the state agency disqualified the other two bidders – Penn National and SL Green-Hard Rock – for not following the bidding process rules by attaching a number of conditions to their bids.

Plans call for the final decision to be made on August 3, but a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) might well change that timeline, insiders say.

The politically-connected AEG charges in its lawsuit that state lottery officials, at the urging of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, wrongly disqualified their winning bid. AEG, which included such heavyweights as the Reverend Floyd Flake and rapper Jay-Z, had been named as the winning bidder by Governor David Paterson and State Senate leaders.

Many saw that decision as politically motivated and both federal and state probes into the decision were instituted. Then, the State Lottery Division issued a statement that a number of AEG partners were “unlicensable” and the process started anew.

The lawsuit claims that after Paterson and legislative leaders approved AEG to operate the facility in January, Silver set new conditions for the bid, including one that mandated that all of AEG’s investors, including minor investors, be licensed.

Flake and others refused to submit documents to the state, and AEG’s bid was pulled. The suit seeks to halt the state’s present bidding process and have its own bid reinstated as the winner. On Wednesday afternoon, a state supreme court judge upstate ordered a hearing on July 26, which will explore whether or not there should be a permanent hold on the state bidding process.

Should the judge decided that there are grounds for a restraining order against the state lottery commission, that decision could delay Genting’s approval and push the process, which has been g oing on for a decade, back one more time. Or, it could start the bidding process all over again for the sixth time.

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