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Lottery Officials Back NY’s Aqueduct ‘Racino’ Operator

Aqueduct Racetrack

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NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) ― The state Lottery Division on Tuesday recommended a Malaysia-based company to build and operate video slot machines at New York City’s Aqueduct racetrack, a gambling operation expected to spin off hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the cash-strapped state and its horse racing industry.

Genting New York was the lone bidder left for the deal to build a “racino” with 4,525 video slots at the Queens track, because two others were disqualified last month for proposing revised contract terms. The company is offering the state an upfront fee of $380 million, more than the $300 million minimum required in bid specifications.

“Genting’s proposal was far superior in concept, scope, detail and execution to any we have seen in previous rounds of evaluation,” Lottery Director Gordon Medenica wrote to Gov. David Paterson. He said the “vastly experienced and professional gaming company” understood the risks and had a clear, rational plan for navigating the city’s complex construction and operating environment.

The subsidiary of Genting Malaysia Berhad proposed opening a preliminary phase with 1,600 slot machines six months after contract approval, and six months later opening the second phase on two floors will all the terminals, a 2,100-space parking garage and a new pedestrian bridge to the Aqueduct subway station.

In their evaluation, Lottery officials said the parent company has $1.6 billion cash on hand and market capitalization of $5.25 billion. It is part of the Genting Group, a multinational organization that includes Resorts World casino resorts in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Britain, as well as seven power plants, major palm oil production, plus oil and gas exploration and production.

The state agency’s recommendation was sent Tuesday to Paterson and legislative leaders. They will make the final decision.

“We’re still reviewing the recommendation, but it’s imperative to get jobs moving into the local economy as soon as possible,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for Senate Democratic leader John Sampson.

The bidding process for the potentially lucrative gambling operation was restarted earlier this year after previous attempts were derailed by political scandal and financial issues for some bidders.

Last week, a state judge dismissed a lawsuit by Aqueduct Entertainment, a consortium that had won the previous round of bidding but was rejected later in the process by the Lottery Division. The group tried to block a new contract award.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)