Some advice for the default Aqueduct derby winner
Jul 13, 2010 | 2832 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Genting New York, a subsidy of the largest gambling company in Southeast Asia, is the only bidder left standing in the competition for the 30-year franchise rights to operate 4,500 electronic slot machines, or video lottery terminals (VLTs), at Aqueduct racetrack in Ozone Park.

New York State’s 10-year debacle in picking an operator might finally be coming to an end, as Genting was reportedly the only company to come up with the up-front $300 million licensing fee required by the state.The two other bidders — Penn National Gaming and a partnership that included Hard Rock Cafe International — were disqualified by the State Lottery Division.

Genting’s financial capability, at first look, seems to be fine, as the public company has deep pockets thanks to financing a number of gaming operations in the United State. Its resume in the tri-state area includes financing the launch of Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut; acquiring a controlling interest in Empire Resorts, which operates the Monticello Casino and Raceway in the Catskill Mountains; and pouring more than $200 million into The Mirage in Atlantic City.

August 3 is the date when Governor David Paterson will receive a recommendation on Genting's proposal from the State Lottery Division.

Last year, Paterson and company decided to award the franchise to Delaware North. The company then failed to deliver on a promised $370 million fee. Then, in a second go-round, in June of 2009, six contenders jockeyed for the franchise. The governor’s office favored SL Green, but instead he picked a consortium called Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) to break a deadlock with the State Senate. After the local newspapers jumped on the possibility that the people behind AEG were too connected to the legislators in charge of the decision, that deal collapsed.

In the Genting plan, the 400,000-square-foot space would include enough room for an event expo, a high-end restaurant, and 4,500 VLTs. A 400-seat food court and parking for 2,000 cars are planned as well.

On Thursday night, representatives from Genting meet with Community Board 10 to discuss the plan and make promises to hire local employees and include community amenities. Genting's previous investments in the tri-state area are more of a financial commitment while the Aqueduct deal will require more attention. Entering into an operating agreement for this project presents new territory for the company, so we are compelled to warn them that community involvement in the overall project is imperative in order to get its support.

Issues like hiring Queens residents, special gamblers anonymous programs for locals, using local companies when choosing vendors, and special attention to quality of life issues need to be addressed. Most important to the immediate surrounding community is the understanding that there needs to be some kind of liaison to the community who is willing to listen and act on behalf of Genting. Genting is a guest here, and guests should walk with a soft stick. Sacrifice income for sensitivity, size for control, and the state economy for the local economy.

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