Monday, July 26, 2010

Review Can Proceed but Aqueduct Decision on Hold by Stephen Geffon - Leader-Observer

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Queens Tribune

The State Division of the Lottery can proceed with the evaluation process for the Aqueduct casino project, but can’t award the VLT contract until a legal challenge is resolved.

State Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer amended the temporary restraining order he issued on July 12 that the State Lottery stop its ongoing review of Genting New York, the lone remaining bidder in the project. The Lottery was in the middle of the review, looking to make a recommendation by August 3.

Kramer's amended order allows the review to continue, but the agency agreed not to issue a recommendation on the project to the governor and legislative leaders before the July 23rd court hearing date. The governor and legislative leaders also agreed not to make a final decision before that hearing.

Aqueduct Entertainment Company (AEC), formerly called Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which this year won the racino bid but was later deemed unlicensable by the Lottery Division, has sued to stop the new bidding process for the Aqueduct VLTs and get reinstated as the operator of the Aqueduct casino.

In the lawsuit, AEC said they are “requesting declaratory and injunctive relief to end the mounting and irreparable injury they presently suffer as a result of arbitrary, capricious, unauthorized and discriminatory actions taken against them by the New York State Division of the Lottery, Governor David Paterson, Senate President Malcolm Smith, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.”

AEC also stated that, “nearly a year after the bidding process had commenced and AEC had been selected, the Assembly speaker changed the licensing rules.”

All parties to the lawsuit are scheduled to appear before Justice Kramer in Schenectady on Friday.

Earlier this month, two bidders for the Aqueduct franchise, a consortium of SL Green, Hard Rock International, and Clairvest Group and Penn National Gaming were disqualified.

Lottery officials said the two bidders did not agree to all of the state’s terms set for the operator of the franchise, including a $300 million nonrefundable licensing fee due before the final contract was signed, as well as paying off a portion of the New York Racing Association’s debt.

SL Green appears is not standing idly by, and in a formal letter to the Lottery, which may be a prelude to a lawsuit, said the firm, “Protests the decision of the New York State Division of the Lottery to disqualify SL Green's proposal...this decision was itself unfounded and, more importantly, reflects a flawed RFP that was designed to inhibit competition rather than promote it.”

“We received the letter and are reviewing it and we’ll have a response to them in a timely manner,” said Lottery spokesperson Jennifer Givner.

Additional related articles:

Introducing Genting: Lone VLT Bidder Makes Its Pitch To Boro Community, Local Leaders by Domenick Rafter - Queens Tribune

Aqueduct Plan Touts Dining, Entertainment - by Bryan Yurcan - Queens Chronicle