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Monday, September 15, 2008

VLT Talk

- Considering Governor Paterson's emphatic statements and urgency regarding the state budget, I guess it wouldn't be surprising if Odato's note on the Capitol Confidential blog that he's "leaning sharply" towards Delaware North is true. The company is offering the most up front, some $370 million for the licensing fee. SL Green/Hard Rock is offering $250 million, Capital Play just $100 million, short of the $250 million envisioned (and budgeted) by the state. As of this writing, I've seen no followup stories about this.

Thanks for the interesting comments. This is the post that Odato wrote in June which stated that Capital Play had the advantage. However, that was before the NYCOTB crisis was resolved, and at a time when Capital Play had floated the idea of taking over the operation and moving its office to Queens; an idea which appealed to Paterson....Bruno and.....Silver.

However, it is true that John Sabini, the head of the Racing and Wagering Board, has favored Capital Play as well. Their proposal is backloaded - what the state would be missing out on at the beginning, would be in theory made up for by ambitious plans to build a lavish hotel/retail/entertainment center, and their usual admirably ambitious but likely impractical ideas, in this case a direct link from the JFK waiting room to the racino entrance.

The company says it will give the state $23-billion over the life of the contract, more than twice the $10-billion Delaware North projects based on higher VLT win-per-day earnings. [Thoroughbred Times]
Capital Play's Karl O'Farrell, before he stepped aside to facilitate the state's screening process, said in a June interview with the local Queens Courier that Delaware North's proposal was effectively "slots in a box."
They “promised more money initially,” O’Farrell claimed, “but their plan for a ‘Racino’ only is not a great economic generator for the neighborhood.”
A couple of commenters wondered if former Governor Spitzer is somehow still involved; one reader pointed out that a key Spitzer aide - in fact, former communications director Darren Dopp - has been reported to be working for Delaware North. I'd like to see who else is lobbying for whom....perhaps that reader who got into the On-Line Lobbyist Registration System can give us a clue if he's still around. Why we need a password to see who's lobbying our elected officials, I don't really understand.

I don't personally have reason to suspect any grand conspiracy involving the ex-governor here. However, it may be worth pointing out that Dopp has refused to abide by the charges brought against him in the (original) Troopergate case by the Commission on Public Integrity; and that some feel that that committee, and its chairman Herbert Teitelbaum, in an effort to protect Spitzer, unfairly disregarded Dopp's testimony with respect to the ex-governor's involvement. Whatsmore, Dopp is the man responsible for some of the more inflammatory quotes and actions attributed to Spitzer, including the famous coffee spitting incident.

So, say the state does pick Delaware North, when it may have once favored Capital Play (which has a more ambitious plan if less money offered up front), and then, just say we see Dopp suddenly drop his fight and pay the $10,000 fine. Then yeah, I'd see where some people might get suspicious.

Another reader questions whether Delaware North will be able to come up with the promised $370 million given the present conditions. And of course, nothing would be surprising in this environment. As to whether they have the cash, we have no idea. Delaware North is a private company, so we have no access to their financial statements.

5 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Nice recap of the situation and prior comments. DelNorth appears to have hired Patrica Lynch and Darren Dopp officially at some point after DelNorth broke away from the former Empire Racing Associates in order to submit its own bid. If you'll recall, this independence was challenged by Empire as it believes DelNorth is bound by contract to to the original Empire group on all matters pertaining to the racing and gaming franchise. To my knowledge, this concern has never been resolved, one way or the other. On another note, I wonder if anyone knows if Patrica Lynch's lobbying efforts have been accepted by the Senate majority, because when Dopp was hired the buzz was that Lynch was shut out from the majority, as Dopp and Spitzer tried to "destroy" them, and that the legislators would deal only directly with her clients if need be.

Anonymous said...

The NYCOTB agreement with the state was announced June 13th, and the Odato piece indicating Capital Play was in the lead for the Aqueduct VLT contract appeared June 16th, so actually the scuttlebutt about Cap Play was after the OTB deal and not before.

alan said...

The OTB bill was dated June 16, as are the news stories reporting the settlement, and the Odato piece does specifically mention that issue as at last part of the basis for the support for Cap Play. So I'd guess that it was more or less concurrent with the time of the settlement. Sorry, don't mean to quibble over a couple of days....

Anonymous said...

As usual in politics, up front cash trumps ingenuity, creativity and long term potential gain for both the state and the hood.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, the actual timing of the OTB anouncement and the atricle may or may not be meangful. I wonder if a "dumbed down" version, "slots in a box" at Aqueduct, per O'Farrell's description of the DelNorth plan, is as close to Spitzer's concept from last spring to shut down Aqueduct and sell the ground, while moving all racing and VLT's to Belmont as the Paterson team led by former Spitzer guy Paul Francis could get? DelNorth could manage a neighborhood style slots parlor at Aqueduct and perhaps the old Excelsior group, (Powers, Mulrow, Fields, Bilinski, Wynn) could reemerge to build the grand palace at Belmont?