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Genting releases peek at Aqueduct plans

Genting NY's plans for Aqueduct Race Track include 4,500 VLTs, entertainment space and a 75-foot-tall indoor water show. Rendering courtesy Genting NY
By Howard Koplowitz

The sole contender being considered for the video lottery terminal contract at Aqueduct Race Track offered a sneak peak of its plans Tuesday as the state comptroller warned that the New York Racing Association, which runs Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Track, is on course to be bankrupt by 2011 because of the delay in selecting a winner for the VLTs.

Meanwhile, Aqueduct Entertainment Co., which was declared the winner of the VLT contract in March and was formerly known as Aqueduct Entertainment Group, sued the state Lottery Division, Gov. David Paterson and other state political leaders Monday to scrap the latest bidding process and restore their position as the winner.

Genting NY LLC, a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar Malaysian-based gaming and hospitality company Genting Malaysia Berhad, said its Aqueduct plans include a two-story food court, a Chinese restaurant, entertainment space and a 75-foot tall indoor water show aside from 4,500 VLTs, according to a spokesman. Genting remains the only bidder after the Lottery Division eliminated its other two competitors last week.

“We got the experience to do this job right, we’ll do it quickly, we’ll obey the rules,” said Genting spokesman Jay Walker.

Walker said Genting expects to create 800 permanent jobs associated with the project and another 1,300 temporary construction positions.

He said further details of the group’s plan will be released this Thursday when Community Board 10 holds a hearing at Aqueduct.

Walker said Genting hired Tutor Perini, which built the AirTrain, Jamaica station and the recently reopened John F. Kennedy International Airport runway, as a builder for the project.

As part of the VLT bidding process, the winning bidder is required to pay the state a licensing fee of at least $300 million.

Walker said Genting, which has more than $1 billion in cash on its balance sheet, will have no problem paying the fee if it is selected.

“This is not a company that needs bank loans,” he said.

The VLT contract has gone out to bid three times in the last three years.

Buffalo-based Delaware North was selected in 2007, but the deal fell through after it could not pay the $370 million upfront payment it promised the state.

AEC was selected in March, but the Lottery deemed the group unlicensable amid concerns about influential minister and former congressman the Rev. Floyd Flake’s involvement in the consortium.

Flake, who had a small investment stake, severed his ties with the group before the Lottery made its determination.

When the bidding was reopened in May, Genting was one of three bidders who submitted proposals for the VLT project. The other two, SL Green/Hard Rock and Penn National Gaming, were disqualified July 6.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in part blamed the holdup in selecting a VLT winner on NYRA’s financial problems and said the horse racing body may be bankrupt by 2011.

“The state also has to live up to its end of the deal. But it looks like the selection of a VLT operator for Aqueduct is still an open question. When you start with six potential bidders and end up with only one, it begs the question of how the process was handled and whether the state can actually close the deal,” the comptroller said in a statement. “The fact is NYRA can’t make it long without significant restructuring and revenues from VLTs.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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