Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Panel Backs Racino for Belmont by James O. Odato -- Times Union - Albany NY

I can't help but wonder...Is the Aqueduct deal for video lottery terminals with Delaware North about to go sour, in favor of Belmont Park..? I sure hope not for the community's sake...

Read original...

Project Could Be Hindered by Competing Aqueduct Development

A state panel is recommending a racino and hotel be built at Belmont Park race track to generate jobs and revenue for the state.

Gov. David Paterson embraced the recommendations from Racing & Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini and Empire State Development Corp. President Marisa Lago weeks ago, but kept it under wraps until their report was released Monday.

Sabini and Lago led a group charged with identifying uses for the Nassau County track, which the state acquired from the New York Racing Association. The hotel and racino would be built on 8 acres near the grandstand.

"These would create jobs and enable a sustainable, pedestrian-friendly environment," the report says.

Development plans for another 20 acres should include retail, a smaller hotel, senior housing and some recreational opportunities. "These uses maximize economic benefits and create a lively urban center," the report says.

Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook cautioned that while the governor had accepted the report, he hasn't yet endorsed a specific development plan for Belmont.

The plan is far from a done deal. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and many members of his conference are not enthused about having Belmont compete with nearby Aqueduct for video lottery terminal customers.

Also, the operators of the proposed Aqueduct VLT racino in Queens must be granted a greater share of VLT revenues if Belmont gets a racino.

Under the deal in which Delaware North agreed to build the racino at Aqueduct, the Buffalo-based gaming company was assured a greater fee if Belmont gets a racino, too.

Legislation would have to be passed to alter the VLT rates to benefit Delaware North — and the company isn't planning to give the state its $370 million up-front payment for rights to operate at Aqueduct until such legislation is in place, according to company officials.

Because Paterson is planning to receive that $370 million by March 31, the legislation is critical in the next few weeks, Delaware North says.

James M. Odato can be reached at 454-5083 or by e-mail at

Read the full report on Belmont development at