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Aqueduct racino put on fast track

5 May 2008

NEW YORK -- As reported by the New York Times: "For New Yorkers, a casino will soon be a mere subway ride away.

"Or a racino, to use the gambling industry's term: a gambling emporium built into the Aqueduct thoroughbred track in Queens that will include 4,500 video slot machines, but no table games.

"Desperate for revenue, the state has put plans to develop a racino at Aqueduct on the fast track. While the plan has been at various stages for years, state officials are aiming to choose among the three bidders vying to develop the racino in a matter of weeks, though final agreements among state leaders often prove elusive in Albany.

"But given the weakening economy and widening budget deficits, the state is motivated to expedite the process, and a bidding group led by the developer Stephen L. Green and the operators of the Hard Rock Cafe chain is even promising to open a temporary racino by the end of this year.

"At stake is the $10 billion to more than $20 billion in revenue that the state will reap over the life of what would be a 30-year lease, depending on which bidder is making the projections, as well as an upfront licensing fee.

"...The bidding process is the latest step in the state's tortuous oversight of its thoroughbred racing franchise.

"...While racing has often been a sinkhole for taxpayers, state officials would like to see the Aqueduct racino — and its 4,500 video lottery terminals, referred to as V.L.T.s — help plug a $5 billion deficit projected for next year..."

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