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N.Y. racino bid winner announced

Oct 14, 2008 5:04 PM

by Ray Poirier | You can place another feather in Jeremy Jacobs’ hat.

The Buffalo, N.Y.,-based owner of Delaware North Companies Gaming and Entertainment has been chosen by New York Gov. David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to build and operate the slot machine casino at Aqueduct racetrack.

The selection comes some seven years after the New York legislature, under former Gov. George Pataki, authorized slots at the track operated by the New York Racing Association (NYRA). Shortly after the law was passed, and initial bids were considered, NYRA chose MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) to put together the slot machine emporium.

After a couple of years of political wrangling, not the least of which was the question of whether NYRA would be given a 25-year extension to its racetrack operating franchise, MGM MIRAGE management prudently bowed out of the picture.

The governor’s announcement favoring Delaware North requires the approval of the New York Senate, something that no one is taking for granted.

Already, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his Republican majority insist that the video-slot machine casino include plans for more local jobs and neighborhood improvements.

Skelos came up with his late objections to the project’s approval in order to support a senior member of the Senate Republican group that is working to generate more jobs in his Queens district.

Paterson’s spokesperson decried Skelos’ objection.

"It is shocking that Senator Skelos, who claims to understand the importance of this revenue stream and who has repeatedly and publicly called on the governor to award this contract, has now decided to stall a significant economic development project," Risa Heller, from Paterson’s office, said.

Losing bidder was a partnership between a developer, SL Green, and Hard Rock Entertainment.