Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Tribal Casinos' Next Competitor

By Ken Davison
Feather News

New York officials say they will pick by the end of the month who will develop and operate what will be New York City's first slot-machine parlor once it is built.

A total of 4,500 video lottery terminal are slated to be installed at Queens' Aqueduct racetrack but even that number may increase if one of the bidders gets their way. A group that includes Turner Construction said it would increase its bid about by forty percent if the state allows it to install 7,650 machines.

MGM Grand and a group led by casino mogul Steve Wynn. MGM won't say how much it bid but Steve Wynn and another group, Delaware Racing, top the publicly-know bid amounts at $300 million each. Manhattan's largest landlord, SL Green is partnering with the Seminole Indians' Hard Rock, in continuing their quest for gaming at Aqueduct by bidding $275 million.

The bidding for gaming at Aqueduct ractrack has been done before. The last bid process resulted in Delaware North chosen as the developer but, later, Delaware North couldn't come up with the $350 million up-front fee to the state so New York is once again in the middle of a bidding process for the Aqueduct gaming concession.

A bidding process was opened yet on another occasion two years ago and concluded shortly after Governor Eliot Sptizer stepped aside before a bidder was chosen.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority participated with Australian gaming executives in earlier bid periods but declined to participate except for saying that it will manage the facility (without the Australians) if the state of New York pays for building the proposed development.

“There is no timeline for a decision,” a spokesman for New York Governor David Paterson said but many think the state legislature may take up the matter when it returns to deal with budget deficits.

Empire City in Yonkers racetrack in New York has about 5,300 VLT slot machines, making it the third largest location on the East Coast in terms of slot machines. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are the first and second largest, respectfully, in terms of their number of slot machines.