Genting Americas Bids for NY Casino License

Domestic subsidiary that runs Aqueduct Racetrack racino says it is considering sites.

The domestic subsidiary of the giant Malaysian-based Genting casino conglomerate, which operates the racino at Aqueduct Racetrack, said April 23 it is jumping into the increasingly crowded field to try to win a license to open a full-scale casino resort in New York state.

But, unlike other would-be casino operators, Genting Americas declined to say where it might seek to locate a casino, which, unlike its Aqueduct facility, will be permitted to offer real slots and table games.

In submitting a $1 million application fee to the state government April 23, Genting Americas would only say that it is looking at several sites in the Catskills/Hudson Valley region. It is one of three geographic zones in the state designated for the first four casino licenses after voters last November okayed a change in the state constitution to permit up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos.

Word of Genting's entry comes less than a week after Caesars Entertainment became the biggest casino company to show interest in a license during the initial round of four bidding sites. For casino companies, the jackpot license, or licenses, will come in seven years, which is when downstate areas, including New York City, is allowed to get in on the casino gambling expansion when the final three licenses are awarded.

Caesars, along with several other bidders, have suddenly jumped into the bidding process with proposed sites in Orange County just 50 or so miles away from Manhattan. Until only recently, most state officials involved in the process had, publicly anyway, assumed the casino expansions would be occurring in the Catskills' counties of Sullivan or Ulster, or both.

But Genting, industry officials say, had to have been become increasingly worried when Caesars announced it was part of a $750 million casino plan in Orange County that could pose a competition problem for Genting's Resorts World facility at Aqueduct.

Interested parties have until midnight on April 23 to get a $1 million application into the state. Up to a point, the fee, intended to pay for such work as criminal and financial background checks of individuals involved in casino bids, is refundable either in whole or in part. But paying the fee now does guarantee entry next week into a bidders' conference with the state Gaming Commission. Whether all the groups paying the fee are serious or just want to keep their options open as the bidding process plays out won't be known for some weeks. Final bids are due at the end of June.

Besides the bidders' conference, a key date comes on May 10. That's the day the state will release a minimum amount that bidders must spend on their casino projects. Precisely how those amounts will be determinedthough it likely will be done by county or some other geographic considerationis still being developed, state officials say. It is likely would-be developers in the Catskills are going to want those looking at the more lucrative sites in Orange County to be slapped with far higher investment guarantees as a way of trying to level the bidding playing field.

The state on April 24 will release a list of those entities that met the $1 million application fee deadline, and upwards of 20 or so sites could end up being in the mix in the three areas. Besides the Catskills/Mid-Hudson Valley, they also include the Albany/Saratoga Springs area and a large stretch of territory between the southern tier near Binghamton to Lake Ontario in a narrow slice of land just east of Rochester.

For its part, Genting had nothing specific to say about its possible plans.

"Destination resorts are our specialty, and we are excited to work with local municipalities and the State of New York to acquire a site where we can build a facility that will help further bolster the Empire State's thriving tourism economy," Christian Goode, the company's senior vice president, said in a written statement. The statement said an announcement on its plans would be made in the coming weeks.

Besides Caesars and now Genting, many of the bidders include casino operators and developers either largely unknown to the gambling world or on the small-to-medium-size range of operators, though one team includes Penn National Gaming and Cordish Cos. Others include the operators of three different harness track-based racinos as well as the owners of Foxwoods Resorts Casino, the sprawling Native American casino in Connecticut.

The state Gaming Commission, which is overseeing the casino selection process, also released a set of answers to commonly asked questions by bidders and others about the process. The information can be found here: