In a stunning move, the State Lottery has disqualified two of the three bidders for the ill-fated Aqueduct “racino” project.
SL Green and Penn National Gaming were rejected only seven days after submitting their applications in the latest round of bidding for the long-delayed project.
That leaves just Genting New York in the running.
Genting “appears to conform with all requirements of the bid submission process and will continue to be evaluated,” the Lottery said in a statement.
If Genting ultimately is not approved for the Aqueduct project, the bidding process will have to start again. A recommendation from Lottery is due to Gov. Paterson and legislative leaders by Aug. 3.
Lottery officials said Penn National and SL Green, which was partnering with Hard Rock International and Clairvest Group, did not conform with the set criteria. Both failed to submit signed copies of the mandatory bid requirements.
Instead, the two bidders offered “altered versions” containing numerous changes they wanted.
Once believed to be a front-runner, SL Green, for example, wanted their minimum $300 million upfront fee to be held in escrow until their conditions were met by the state.
The group also wanted the right to make ownership changes without the state’s consent, a cap on any increase in local property taxes at 3%, and a complete exemption of state and local sales taxes for the construction of the racino.
Penn National, meanwhile, wanted to be able to terminate its Aqueduct video lottery license any time it decides the casino has not been profitable for four straight quarters.
The group also wanted a guarantee that no other gaming facility would open within 50 miles of Aqeuduct, despite those who are eying Belmont in the future.
Most of the changes sought by both groups were raised with Lottery before the bids were due.
“It was made clear that non-conforming bids would be disqualified,” Lottery said.