It is the photo opportunity the state of New York and the racing industry has been awaiting: a $380 million check presented by the company selected to run the much-delayed Aqueduct casino project.
On Sept. 27, executives from the company Genting New York will pose with state lottery division officials with the ceremonial check (the real cash is being wired) at a ceremony considered a major step forward in the project.
Genting, owned by a Malaysian casino company, recently beat out several other bidding groups for the 4,500-slot machine casino at the Queens racetrack. After final sign-offs by legal and fiscal officials in New York, Genting and the lottery then had 10 days to finalize the contract and for Genting to turn over the $380 million upfront franchise fee payment. The state, whose precarious financial situation can use all the funds it can find, had sought at least $300 million from bidders.
The casino project was first approved in 2001. The current process, which the racing industry will likely believe is not completely real until the first gambling machines are lit up, comes after attempts by three gubernatorial administrations in New York.
Genting expects to have the first 1,600 slots operating between next March and May. Construction could begin sometime in October. The exclusive franchise will last for 30 years.