Dual plans could delay slots at Aqueduct

Mar 2, 2009 7:13 PM
by Ray Poirier |

It looked so easy seven years ago when the New York State politicians saw multi-millions of revenue flowing into the state coffers just by approving the installation of slot machines at the downstate racetracks.

Executives of MGM MIRAGE Inc. readily agreed by making a substantial offer to the state to build a slots facility at Aqueduct racetrack. But continued political bickering caused the MGM folks to back out of the deal.

Still, the process went forward, albeit slowly, through three administrations before finally coming to a head in 2008 when Gov. David Paterson and the state’s political bigwigs agreed to award the slots license at Aqueduct to Buffalo’s Delaware North Corp.

Fortunately for Jeremy Jacobs and his executive staff at Delaware North they elected to hold off on the slots investment until they had a firm commitment in writing that would protect them from either political interference or competition.

Then last week, Gov. Paterson’s study commission filed a report suggesting that Belmont Park’s 28 acres that straddle Queens and Nassau Counties would be an ideal place for a slots facility as well as a "small" hotel" and other developments.

Describing the location as a "sleeping giant of a state and community asset," the committee suggested that now was the time that "its full development potential" should be realized.

That was enough to put the brakes on the Aqueduct development.

It appears that nothing further will go forward until the political climate is resolved.