Six Groups Now in Aqueduct Bidding Process

Six different groups have submitted a $1 million entry fee to be a part of the newest bidding process for the delayed Aqueduct casino project.

Interested bidders had until June 1 to submit the mandatory, refundable fee to the New York State Lottery agency, which is running the new bidding process. Companies not meeting the June 1 entrance fee deadline cannot bid later this month, but potential bidders that did pay the $1 million can still add partners over the next month before bids are due.

The groups include new and old players in the Aqueduct mix in what is now the fourth bidding process by three different gubernatorial administrations, sources said.

Penn National has again indicated its interest with a $1 million placeholder fee, as has Delaware North and its partner Saratoga Gaming and Raceway. SL Green Realty Corp., a Manhattan company, is also back trying again. And Clairvest Group, which was a part of the former team of Aqueduct Entertainment Group, additionally put in the $1 million by the June 1 deadline. (AEG won the most recent bidding round, but then was later rejected after federal and state investigators began looking at the bidding process).

New to the mix is Empire City Casino, the racino at Yonkers Raceway. Also, Genting New York, which is tied to a big Asian casino group, has expressed interest. Genting also has financial interests in Monticello Raceway.

Whether all the groups will end up placing actual bids for the Aqueduct casino is uncertain. A mandatory bidders’ conference meeting is set for June 8  at Aqueduct with vendor proposals due by 4 p.m. June 29. The state expects to announce a selection Aug. 3.

Bidders must agree to pay the state of New York at least $300 million in an upfront franchise fee for rights to the casino and its 4,500 approved slot machines.

The state first approved the Aqueduct project in 2001, and other tracks in New York have long since seen the flow of revenues from their own casino operations. A series of legal, financial, and political setbacks have delayed the Aqueduct casino.

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