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QUEENS, New York -- A partnership that includes the Las Vegas-based Navegante Group won a prolonged bidding process Friday and was selected to build and operate a potentially lucrative casino at the Aqueduct Race Track in New York City.
New York Gov. David Paterson chose Aqueduct Entertainment Group over four other bidders, all of which included a casino operator and various New York-based developers and business entities.
Aqueduct is in the New York borough of Queens and the casino will house 4,500 video lottery terminals, making it the largest gambling site in New York City.
Navegante Group, which is headed by longtime Nevada gaming figure Larry Woolf, manages casinos, including the Sahara, three casinos in Elko and Reno's Grand Sierra. The company opened and operated the Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which it used as a case study in the bidding process.
Other casino companies that bid on the Aqueduct contract were MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment, Penn National Gaming and the Florida-based Hard Rock casinos. Wynn Resorts dropped out of the bidding process in November.
"All of the groups have valid proposals, but AEG presented a comprehensive bid that enjoys community support and also offers strong marketing appeal," Paterson said in a statement.
Aqueduct Entertainment Group will be required to pay an upfront franchise fee between $200 and $300 to match the highest offer which had come from Penn National, which was reported to be $301 million.
"AEG has both the financial viability and ability to pay the required upfront licensing fee," Paterson said.
New York expects the casino to generate $450 million a year in revenue for the state to help offset and $7.4 billion budget gap. About 15 percent of the casino revenue will go to The New York Racing Association Inc., which operates the Aqueduct race track, Saratoga Race Course and Belmont Park.
Video lottery terminals are similar to slot machines but operate through a central server.
The AEG proposal included restaurants, casual dining and bars and a 2,000-space parking garage. The master plan also includes a hotel and other entertainment options in additional phases.
Woolf said in 2009 the Aqueduct casino wasn't going to resemble a Strip resort.
"We're going to have Corona Italian ice and hotdog vendors like a New York City neighborhood," Woolf said last summer.
The bidding process began last May but plans for a casino at Aqueduct had been in place since 2001. A deal with a Buffalo, N.Y.-based company fell apart in 2008 and the process was reopened.
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