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Sheldon Silver in Favor Postponing Decision for Aqueduct Racetracks Slots Vendor

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said on February 23rd, 2010 that finalizing the state of New York's choice of slot machine vendor for the Aqueduct Racetrack must wait until a state investigation is finished into how the Aqueduct Entertainment Group won the slots bid.

The involvement of Rev. Floyd Flake, a former Democratic Congressman, though he possess less than one percent share in Aqueduct Entertainment Group, has raised some questions about whether the organization was chosen because of his political influence.

Assembly Speaker Silver said that he had asked New York's inspector general to investigate the group's selection and the voting process. Three Democrats, Assembly Speaker Silver, Senate President Malcolm Smith and Governor David Paterson must give their approval to the final award. The spokesperson for Smith and Paterson, who has connections to a non-profit group being investigated in connection with the agreement, had no comment.

For years, the state of New York has predicted that it could earn hundreds of millions of dollars by installing slot machines in Aqueduct, which is located in New York City's borough of Queens.

But the selection of a slots group has repeatedly stalled. To finalize the agreement, Aqueduct Entertainment Group must pay New York a $300 million licensing fee and get all of its top officials licensed by New York's Division of Lottery.

No one convicted of a felony charge within the past fifteen years can get a gaming license, a condition that prompted a minor shareholder to withdraw. Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which edged out groups like Delaware North, SL Green Realty Corporation (SLG.N) and Penn National Gaming Incorporated (PENN O.), said in a statement that they are continuing to collaborate with the state to finalize an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) so that they can provide the state with $300 million in needed revenue and begin on this important job-creating project for Queens residents.

Silver, when asked if a final agreement should also wait on the results of a federal investigation, said that they will deal with it as it comes. If Aqueduct Entertainment Group's agreement is overturned, at least one of the losing bidders appears to be ready for another chance.


Wednesday, 03 March 2010
Marissa Patterson