NYRA moves on ‘Big A’ slots

May 17, 2005 5:47 AM

Construction plans are heating up at the New York Racing Association (NYRA) where MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) will build a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct racetrack but the cost estimates have risen 20% since the project was first proposed a couple of years ago.

Legislative problems and legal interpretation of the original bill approving VLTs for the state’s racetracks held up development of the NYRA facility but a recent change in the law, and a potential agreement between the track and the participating horsemen on profit splits, have returned the project to the front burner.

"We’re pushing hard to get this thing going," NYRA president Charles Hayward recently told The Blood-Horse magazine.

However, he noted that the construction delay increased the original price tag for the facility from $140 million to $170 million that may require further negotiations on dividing the spoils. "We can’t have an increase in our commitment to purses and breeds, which we would like to do, if we have not paid back MGM," Hayward added.

Shortly after the original law was passed, NYRA made a deal with MGM MIRAGE to build a facility that would house some 4,500 slot machines. The arrangement requires that the casino company be reimbursed its construction cost within a reasonable time. NYRA has forecast that each machine could generate $400 per day in win.

Construction is expected to begin this summer with the facility to be ready for operation within 12 months. Target date for opening has been set as Labor Day, 2006.