Friday, July 16, 2010

Pols: Go-Go a No-Go for Aqueduct Casino by Brendan Scott in Albany and Carl Campanile in NY -

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Lose the showgirls and hold on to your horses!

Queens leaders said yesterday they want to scratch a plan to have scantily clad Las Vegas-style dancers performing at a proposed casino at Aqueduct Racetrack, while an upstate judge ordered the Paterson administration to halt its latest efforts to open a gambling facility there.

Genting New York -- the American arm of the Malaysian-based gambling giant -- unveiled images on Monday of a proposed "racino" that includes a stage for showgirls to strut their stuff while gamblers play video lottery terminals.

"That's not the type of venue we're looking for," said Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park) said having showgirls at Aqueduct "went over like a lead balloon."

"That was a mistake. I'm not for scantily clothed dancers. This is not Las Vegas!" Pheffer said.

The furor over the showgirls comes as Genting presents its racino plan to Community Board 10 tonight at Aqueduct.

Genting is the only horse left in the race after the state Lottery Division disqualified two other bidders last week -- SL Green-Hard Rock and Penn National -- for not following competition rules.

After hearing about the flak, Genting NY will now tell CB 10 that the plan for showgirls is not leaving the starting gate.

"We have no plans for showgirls. This was an architect's rendering, and nothing more," said Genting spokesman Stefan Friedman.

While widely respected in the gambling industry, Genting is not without controversy.

The outfit has plunked $200 million into its partnership with MGM Mirage. New Jersey gambling regulators warned Las-Vegas-based MGM Mirage to drop its ties to business partner Pansy Ho, the daughter of Macao gambling mogul Stanley Ho, who has reputed ties to organized crime.

But the Genting-backed MGM decided to sell its stake in Atlantic City's posh Borgata casino instead of severing its business partnership with Ho in a Macao casino.

Genting dismissed the connection as trivial.

"That's like holding a bank responsible for the actions of anyone they lend money to. It just doesn't make sense," Friedman said.

Meanwhile, Schenectady Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer issued the temporary restraining order on the 2-month-old bid process after a lawsuit was filed by the Aqueduct Entertainment Co., whose previous winning bid for the multibillion-dollar casino deal collapsed in scandal earlier this year.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Fermino

Aqueduct 'Racino' Builder Would Lure Met and "Jet" Fans - 

The would-be builder of a video-slots complex at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens announced plans last night to lure JFK Airport passengers on layover and Mets fans from Citi Field with shuttle buses.

Genting New York exec Jay Walker called JFK a massive tourism hub whose stop-over passengers could duck into the racino for a couple of hours.
Walker also called Mets fans "a diverse group, and they look like our customer base."