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Aqueduct Casino Project Finally Approved

Friday, 24th October 2008

In New York "after years of false starts, state officials have given final approval to Delaware North to build & operate a casino at Aqueduct Racetrack, making it the only legal casino in New York City" reported bloodhorse.com. Delaware North (which owns Finger Lakes Racetrack) "won the rights after 2 weeks of partisan battles at the state Capitol": . Governor David Paterson & Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (both Democrats) recently settled on the company's bid (& its offer of US$370 million in up-front payments to the state), but Senate Republicans balked, arguing the firm's development plans were "not ambitious enough to make Aqueduct into a destination resort". Senate officials yesterday announced they are now embracing the company's bid, after a key Republican Senator Serphin Maltese (who represents the track) declared he is endorsing its plans (amid a close re-election battle where the casino has become a political football between Democrats & Republicans). The casino will feature 4,500 video lottery terminals & "bring the state upwards of US$1 million a day in VLT revenues", with the New York Racing Association estimating "purses & thoroughbred breeding programs will also share potentially tens of millions of dollars a year in the VLT revenues". The casino contract is for 25 years & officials "say the facility could be open within 15 months". Delaware North beat 2 other bidding teams: New York City developer SL Green & its partners (led by Hard Rock Entertainment) "which offered the state US$250 million in up-front payments"; & Australian-backed Capital Play (whose partners include Mohegan Sun casino) "which put US$100 million on the table". Delaware North's competitors artgued they would generate far more money in the long run than Delaware North's plan.

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