Genting loans $25M to fund the NYRA

Genting New York placed its bets on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) with a $25 million check at Aqueduct Racetrack, the future site of Genting’s Resorts World Casino, on Friday, October 22.
The loan will be directed toward supporting NYRA as they attempt to make horse racing a viable New York industry once again. Genting New York President Mike Speller said that the loan demonstrates the partnership between the two organizations and the faith that Genting has in NYRA and will eventually be paid back through revenue created by the casino.
“Genting is proud to be able to assist NYRA as it rolls out significant improvements that will lead to an even stronger horse racing industry around the state,” said Speller. “Moving forward, Genting is eager to work closely with NYRA to transform the current facility into a casino and racetrack that will be the envy of the country.”
Work on the casino is set to begin on Thursday, October 28 – not a moment too soon for NYRA executive vice president and chief operating officer Hal Handel, who said that this venture will help reverse the tough times endured by New York’s racing industry. Most importantly, according to Handel, the revenue from the casino will enable NYRA to increase purses and improve facilities at all of New York’s racing facilities.
“A successful casino at Aqueduct will provide the entire New York thoroughbred industry with much needed revenue and will allow NYRA to increase purses and undertake important capital improvement projects at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga,” said Handel.
Rick Violette, Jr., president of New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc., said that Genting is providing a “light at the end of the tunnel” for breeders and trainers who once looked to leave New York.
“New York horsemen can now plan on significant purse increases over the coming years, helping to provide job stability for 35,000 hardworking people from breeders to trainers to grooms who make up the industry in our state,” said Violette.
Jeffrey Cannizzo, executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc., added that Genting’s deal will also help to safeguard open space throughout the state.
“This development will not only strengthen the economy and create jobs, it will safeguard 45,000 acres of open space and 300 thoroughbred breeding farms in 50 counties that employ 35,000 workers in New York State,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the funds were being dispersed, questions arose surrounding one of the original bidders of the Aqueduct Racino project, Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG). State Inspector General Joseph Fisch alleged that the selection of AEG by Governor David Paterson, State Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, Senate President Pro Temp Malcolm Smith and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in January 2009, was made without proper lobbying restrictions.
Fisch said that political relationships and campaign contributions played a major role in the original selection of AEG. Among the allegations, the report alleges that campaign cash was funneled to the decision makers by AEG – and in return they received important information about competitors.
“This process was doomed from the start, and at each turn, our state leaders abdicated their public duty, failed to impose ethical restraints and focused on political gain at a cost of millions to New Yorkers,” said Fisch.
Assembly Speaker Silver said that he had questions of his own about AEG’s selection and that the Inspector General’s report is the investigation he has been waiting for.
“I was unconvinced that the bid submitted by AEG and initially approved by the Governor and Senate in January had been adequately evaluated, critically analyzed and carefully considered,” he said. “Because serious concerns had been raised regarding the selection process, I demanded that every bidder meet certain requirements before the Assembly would approve the awarding of this franchise. Essentially, those same requirements were adopted as part of the new bidding process and were ultimately met by the successful bidder.”
AEG’s bid was eventually disqualified after the financial viability of the company came into question.

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