New York Gov. David A. Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced April 17 that New York State is seeking new proposals to select an experienced gaming operator to build and operate a video lottery terminal facility at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.
According to an announcement from Paterson’s office, applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 8, 2009. As with the original proposal, the selected operator will be chosen by the unanimous agreement between the Governor, Majority Leader and Speaker.
“We remain absolutely committed to bringing a VLT facility to Aqueduct, which will provide much needed economic development to the race track, and critical funding for education in New York,” Paterson said in the release. “It is extremely disappointing that the economic crisis has slowed this development, but we are confident that Aqueduct will be transformed into a destination spot for racing and gaming fans.”
“Growing our economy through job creation and economic development projects such as the implementation of VLTs at Aqueduct will move our State toward the type of new economy New York needs to get back on track,” Smith said in the release. “Though it is disappointing that the process has been slowed due to the struggling economy, I am confident that we can find a new partner to build Aqueduct into a gaming location that bolsters the local and State economy.”
“It is essential to the long-term successful operation of New York’s racing industry that we find the most qualified vendor to operate VLTs at Aqueduct,” Silver said. “Though the economic recession has delayed the course of selecting a vendor, the state remains committed to ensuring the best option is selected for the State and the community to create a quality destination and entertainment venue at Aqueduct.”
Delaware North, which was selected last October to develop and operate a VLT facility at Aqueduct, withdrew from the project earlier this year.
An updated version of the State’s Memorandum of Understanding released April 17 outlines a potential framework for terms related to the operation and development of a VLT facility at Aqueduct, and includes the following components:
–The winning bidder would pay the full amount of their proposed upfront franchise fee no later than ten business days following the execution of the MOU.
–The state would issue personal income tax bonds through the Empire State Development Corporation in the amount of $250 million to finance eligible VLT project costs. The net amount borrowed would be advanced to the selected bidder to be used for project capital costs incurred in the construction of a VLT facility at Aqueduct.
–The VLT facility would be constructed by the VLT Vendor, which will be responsible for its design and construction subject to the terms of the MOU and applicable laws and regulations. Neither ESDC nor the State will be responsible for construction or cost overruns.
–The state would enter into an agreement with the winning bidder for a fixed period of 30-years, with a possible 10-year extension based on the attainment of reasonable benchmarks that ensure satisfactory performance.
Vendors may propose modifications to this MOU as part of their bids. These proposed changes will be considered by the Governor, Majority Leader, and Speaker in making their selection.
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said: “I am more optimistic today about the future of Aqueduct and our surrounding communities now that he VLT solicitation process has begun. I intend to inform my residents and ensure their involvement in the process that pertains to protecting Aqueduct.”
Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer said: “The installation of VLTs will certainly help to improve Aqueduct and stimulate the racing industry and economic growth in New York. It is unfortunate that the process of finding a qualified vendor has taken this long. Nevertheless, it is important that New York continues the bidding process in order to enhance the facility and provide needed revenues for the State.”
Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, chair of the Racing and Wagering Committee, said: “Aqueduct is one of the reasons that New York is a national thoroughbred racing industry leader. The installation of VLTs at the facility has been a top priority in our goal of attracting tourists and stimulating economic development in the region. It was essential that New York reopen its bidding process to move forward with this important project.”