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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath

As reported today by the Queens Courier, Governor Paterson's spokesperson Morgan Hook declined to set a date by which he expects the three men in a room to pick the winner of the Aqueduct racino sweepstakes. And he confirmed that each of the six (or seven) bidders will have to be vetted anew. Oh man.... “Vetting is part of the process and we’ve got to evaluate everyone based on today, as opposed to a year ago." Hook also confirmed for us what has become painfully clear over the last few years - this matter is not necessarily top priority.

“There are six or seven weeks until the end of the Legislative Session,” he observed. “The governor, majority leader and speaker have a lot of things taking up their time – this is just one of them.” [Queens Courier]
Thanks for pointing that out.

By now perhaps you've seen the press release issued by the no-longer-shadowy Aqueduct Entertainment Group. Therein lies the facts and details - at least as laid out by the parties themselves - on each of the seven participants. As reported previously by Tom Precious on, the consortium does include The Darman Group, a real estate development company originally incorporated as Smith Darman, as in Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. As reported by the Daily News in 2006:
Smith took his name off the company and says he cut his ties with it in 2000, when he took office. He said he left it to his partner, Darryl Greene, a major player in the minority contracting world who pleaded guilty in 1999 to defrauding city agencies, including the School Construction Authority.
"I've got nothing to do with this company," he said.
According to the press release, The Darman Group will be working with an entity called Empowerment Development Corporation, which was founded by Senator Smith's longtime close advisor the Rev. Floyd Flake, who told the Courier that he was not familiar with the details of the rest of the proposal, and the other participants in the group. But we can kinda guess why he is there.

Another local real estate outfit that's in the group is Levine Builders. Jeffrey Levine is the president of that outfit, and there's a person by that name listed as a contributor of $2500 to Senator Smith's campaign in 2006 on a NYS Board of Elections Financial Disclosure Report [pdf]. But hey, I'm sure there are a lot of Jeffrey Levines that have contributed to the Senator's campaign, right? I've just started poking around, and we'll see what else comes up...

The Navegante Group is the company with the gaming expertise.
The Navegante Group currently operates five casinos in the United States and three casinos internationally.

The Navegante Group brings a wealth of experience to Aqueduct, having undertaken a similar project in Niagara Falls, Ontario resulting in an unmitigated success for the local area. The Casino Niagara consists of a total of 95,000 square feet of gaming space, including over 1,700 slot machines and 60 table games.
Navegante operates the Grand Sierra in Las Vegas, and a look at the consumer reviews on Yahoo are decidedly best....which is better than what this Las Vegas blogger has to say.

OK, OK, now I'm being an unprofessional snarky blogger just cherrypicking some negative stuff from Google. But why wouldn't this company mention their Las Vegas properties in the press release? Just sayin. I'll have some more fair-minded stuff to say once I have some time to do more research I'm sure..


Anonymous said...

Good googling work, but Alan the proof is in the pudding as it appears to me that Aqueduct Entertainment is a rather accomplished group with a heck lot more success than problems. By the way, aren't complainers typically the ones that leave messages on comment boards? How many people actually take the time to leave words of praise? It's those that were offended by something that need to get "even."

Isn't it true though that everyone in this process seems to know or have connections to someone in Albany or higher places. Patrica Lynch/Shelly Silver with Delaware North, now Jeff Gural/S L Green with Shelly, Don Peebles, and whomever is his partner with Paterson, The Kennedy's and President Obama, and of course Wynn with the Dali Lama!

Morgan Hook's remarks are a concern. What if we are blogging about this deal years from now? Could happen, but man I hope not.

alan said...

I'm reprinting this comment which was posted on the prior thread just before this post.

Anonymous said...


the NYRA, has now placed together, the Peebles and MGM team for the Peebles bid .

MGM part of the Peebles bid consists of the old team at MGM, (they are not with MGM ) and were walking around the hallways of the Capitol with NYRA a few weeks ago - fact.

Up-front fee 1st round factors / amounts said to be as follows :

1. Peebles bid $150 m - subjective
to same party agreements

2 Steve Wynn bid $75m - combined overseas interests - conditional

3. Penn National bid $5m - unknown

4 Aqueduct Entertainment Group
bid $151m - conditional

5. Delaware North bid $100m - unknown

6. Mohegan Sun - n/v

Logic tenders towards a final between 3.

Peebles - Aqueduct Entertainment Group & SL Green.

Issues forwarded are:

1. Will the State pick an out-of-state Florida based Gaming Tribe when it will be dealing with Indian Tribes seeking casino licenses over the next few years.

Also where is the Minority component of the SL Green team? Read the MOU.

My reading of the MOU is that a minority interest is specifically required. Also the SL Green/Delaware North litigation must also cloud the waters here.

2. Can the State pick Peebles when surely Delaware North must be considering a lawsuit against him.

Difficult to believe that Delaware North would put his name in their bid unless they felt he is contractually bound to them.

3.How would the Aqueduct Entertainment Group team combine to make this happen? Seems team combined as a group.

Navegante Group got the State of Ontario back its $180M investment in the Niagara Casino within 180 days. GreenStar is an experienced NY contractor and developer and they have brought in Levine Builders and The Rev Flake to give it the local Queens experience and minority experience.

Do we finally have a team that can get Aqueduct up and running yesterday without false starts and start generating money for Education and for racing ?

Anonymous said...

If real, last post loaded with goodies! Charlie Hayward categorically denied NYRA's involvement with any of the bidders in the racing press, although the last poster isn't the only one that had heard about former MGM folks and NYRA working real close in Albany.

To that point, from the minutes of the April 2nd, Community Board 10 meeting in Queens: "Ms. Liz Bracken (NYRA, V.P.) stated that NYRA President Charlie Hayward has been in touch with Albany to help move the process along to not have an extensive re-bid that would take many months. Mr. Hayward has been working with them on a plan that MGM had originally proposed to see if they could actually implement that plan instead of doing re-bids because there were certain permits in place over that plan."

Sounds like the NYRA is much more involved in this process than some other bloggers want to believe.

Anonymous said...

Curious bid by AEG, just happened to beat the next highest bid by a million.

The fix is in.

And can someone explain why in the world is there a "minority" requirement, was there such a clause in any of the other vlt deals in NY?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, in case anyone is interested there is a horse race this weekend, the filly drew post 13.

Anonymous said...

Minority clause was there in Spitzer's VLT award MOU as well. That's one of the reasons that DelNorth/Peebles/McKissack was a favored child. I have watched this deal patiently for years, and based on what's going on in NY, with the Hevesi pension fund scandal and Cuomo's interest in State contract awards won by big time lobbyists, I find it hard to believe that anything untowered will be permitted this go round.

But, this is indeed NY. Governor Paterson did fire the entire Public Integrity Commission today, so perhaps he has turned over a new leaf as well?

Anonymous said...

Minority requirement? Do you realize what time we are living in 7:33 anon? Please open your eyes and have a look around.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any details on SL Green's bid amount/conditions???? Curious how they stack up to rest of the field.

Anonymous said...


7. SL Green bid $200m - contains most conditions, based on the 7 bids.

Anonymous said...

Anon 757, my eyes are wide open, which is why I question the need for the minority requirement in this day and age.

Did not realize it was in the Spitzer's MOU, granted I do not follow this as close as many others.

Was this required in any of the harness deals, or is only thoroughbred racing subject to minority preference?

Anonymous said...

Minority preference is something coming out of Paterson's office. As to why it's there, you'd have to ask David. I have my opinion, but it is his, Shelly and Smith's contract award.