Saturday, July 24, 2010

Judge Delays Aqueduct Ruling by Adam Sichk - The Business Review (Albany)

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A New York state judge has delayed, until next week, a ruling affecting bids for a proposed casino at the Aqueduct racetrack downstate.
State Supreme Court Judge Barry D. Kramer is presiding over a lawsuit that seeks to stop the bidding process on the long-delayed casino. The casino’s 4,500 slot machines hold the key to millions in revenue to fund renovations at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs.

On July 9, a consortium called Aqueduct Entertainment Co. LLC sued the state to stop the bidding process.

State officials had selected the group’s bid in January, but Gov. David Paterson revoked the bid in March in the face of growing controversy about the group and the bidding process.

Aqueduct Entertainment wants Kramer to give it the contract once again.

At a Friday court hearing in Schenectady, Kramer said he needed more time to review documents. Kramer set a new hearing for July 29, when it is likely he will deliver his decision.

The state is once again rebidding the project and had planned to announce a potential winner no later than Aug 3. Just one bidder remains, an affiliate of a Malaysia-based casino and resort company.

However, Kramer has issued an order preventing the state from announcing whether the bidder, Genting New York LLC, has won the bid until he issues his decision.

State officials are allowed to continue to assess and analyze Genting’s bid while the court case continues, Kramer said.

The state has canceled deals with winning bidders twice in the past two years.

The state Legislature approved the slot machines in 2001.

The machines are expected to provide $1 million a day to the state, critical revenue for a state facing billions of red ink.

The machines would also support the New York Racing Association Inc., the not-for-profit that operates thoroughbred horse racing at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont Park, another downstate track.

The annual meet at Saratoga began today.