Quantcast

Three-way race at Aqueduct

Of the six players tendering $1 million for the right to bid on the Aqueduct Racino – Delaware North Gaming; Penn National Gaming; Ontario bank Clairvest; Empire City Gaming; Manhattan developer S.L. Green and Genting New York, LLC – only three remain.

“The following companies submitted proposals to develop and operate a video gaming facility at Aqueduct: Genting New York, LLC; Penn National [and] one group comprised of SL Green, Hard Rock [Entertainment and] Clairvest Group,” Lottery spokesperson Jennifer Givner announced on Tuesday, June 29.

Both Buffalo-based Delaware North, which once had the Aqueduct franchise in its grasp, and Yonkers-based Empire City dropped out of the race to operate the 4,500 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) at the South Ozone Park racetrack for 20 years.

Their announcements came within minutes of the 4 p.m. deadline.

“Delaware North Companies . . . have made a careful review,” said president William Bissett, “and have respectfully decided not to move forward in the next phase of the process.”

“The VLT vendor procurement structure as proposed makes it impossible for us to submit a conforming proposal,” he continued.

In a similar statement, spokesperson Robert Galterio said, “Empire City/Yonkers Raceway has determined that it is not in its strategic best interest to submit a bid.”

“We’re disappointed because we felt we could have done the best job,” Galterio said, but cited some of the terms and conditions as putting the cost “out of our reach.”

In the face of Lottery Director Gordon Medenica’s public warning not to “lobby in the press,” spokespersons for the other bidders were close-lipped, unwilling to say in advance even whether they were bidding or not.

Privately, however, others echoed Bissett’s complaints.

“They’re demanding a minimum $300 million, non-refundable, up-front fee, with no guarantee that the deal will even go through . . . no guarantee on tax rates . . . no guarantee they can sell the promised $250 million in bonds needed to make the deal work,” complained one source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the topic.

Bissett complained publically – and others privately – that “the indefinite amount of financial support that the developer will be required to provide to the New York Racing Association [NYRA]” and the recent federal recognition of Long Island’s Shinnecock Indian tribe also had a chilling effect.

Despite assurances from state and Lottery officials that no gaming would be authorized at nearby Belmont Park, that the New York City/Long Island market could accommodate multiple gaming facilities and that the Lottery would “protect its interests,” some among the bidders were wary, even at the mandatory briefing and tour at the track on Tuesday, June 8.

“I’ve never seen a process like this anywhere in the world” grumbled one attendee. “No wonder [casino mogul Steve] Wynn pulled out – they want to hold the $6 million from us and the $300 million from the winner, interest free while they negotiate, and they don’t even have coffee here today.”

More from Around New York