Lone VLT Bidder Outlines Plan For Aqueduct
Plans to build a casino at Aqueduct Race Track appear to be heading down the home stretch with the proposed developer winning support Monday from a key lawmaker. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
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After almost a decade of false starts including more than one failed bidding process, a plan to bring video slot machines to Aqueduct Raceway is looking like a sure bet. What's still needed is for Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson to give the green light to the Genting Group, a Malaysian-based casino and resort operator. And now, State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn says he will push for approval by week’s end.
"I must say, after your presentation, I’m extremely excited. I’m going to send a memo to Senator Sampson and ask him to formally recommend this venture," Adams said.
Adams is chairman of the State Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, which heard a two-hour pitch from Genting executives Monday. Within six months, Genting says it will have 1,600 video slot machines up and running, along with a food court.
In a year, the full interior will be complete with 4,500 slot machines total, a buffet restaurant, two high-end restaurants and a VIP area.
And within 18 months the project will be complete with a grand entrance, including a three-story waterfall in the lobby. There will also be on-stage entertainment, outdoor event space and an enclosed skybridge to the subway station.
"You’re more than building slots in a box here, gentlemen. You’re building a place which people say, 'Hey let’s go for dinner over there,' or, 'Hey let’s bring my folks, they’re in town, over there,' or, 'Hey, let’s get on the subway and go over to Aqueduct. We’re gonna have a good time after the game,'" said Genting spokesman Jay Walker.
Lottery officials received interest from several development groups in this latest round of bidding. But Genting was the last one left standing, after the two other finalists were disqualified last month for failing to conform to the bid requirements.
"I was disenchanted that they were the only bidder remaining. I wanted it to come down to more than one. And so I was reluctant to recommend. Then after seeing their presentation, clearly they are the best product," Adams said.
Genting estimates the project will create about 2,100 jobs and is promising to put one percent of net profits back into the community. It doesn’t hurt that Genting has also promised $380 million as an upfront licensing fee, money that will help the state close a massive budget gap.