Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hold Your Bets on the Aqueduct Deal - DiNapoli's Office Has Reservations About Bid Winner Genting by Ken Lovett - NY Daily News

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State Controller Thomas DiNapoli must sign off on the deal for the racino at Aqueduct, and he has questions for Genting New York, the winning bidder. 

The latest plan for the Aqueduct racino is no sure bet, the Daily News has learned.
State Controller Thomas DiNapoli has worries about the latest deal - and he must sign off on it before it becomes official.
"We have not received the contract yet, but we have had preliminary discussions with the lottery about some of our concerns," said DiNapoli spokesman Dennis Tompkins.
Sources said the controller's office is worried that the company picked to run the lucrative video-slots parlor, Genting New York, was the sole qualified bidder to emerge.
DiNapoli's office also raised concerns about Genting's 3% stake in MGM Grand, which works with Pansy Ho - whose father is a Chinese casino magnate with reported mob ties - at its Macao casino.
The State of New Jersey was so uncomfortable with MGM's relationship with Ho that regulators forced the company to sell its share of the Borgata in Atlantic City.
One source said the controller's objections are unlikely to torpedo the project. Tompkins wouldn't comment on the severity of DiNapoli's concerns.
DiNapoli and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo both must okay the pact that Genting reached with Gov. Paterson and legislative leaders.
Cuomo's office, which is checking to make sure the contract passes legal muster, also has had some questions, sources said.
In recommending Genting, lottery officials hailed the proposal as the best they'd seen in the nine-year slog to launch a racino at the Queens track.
Lottery spokeswoman Jennifer Givner played down the concerns from both offices. "I think this is part of their due diligence," Givner said.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is close to DiNapoli, said he believes the deal ultimately will go through.
"I don't think any of these questions raise significant issues," Silver (D-Manhattan) said.
The cash-strapped state is set to receive $380 million from Genting within 10 days of Cuomo and DiNapoli signing off on the contract.
This year, Paterson picked the politically connected Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which boasted the influential Rev. Floyd Flake as a partner, to run the racino.
The deal fell apart this spring when the Lottery Division deemed the group "unlicensable."