Several of the Aqueduct bidders have significantly raised the cash portion of their bids; that according to Jim Odato's article in the Times Union on Tuesday. As you may recall, the competition howled in protest when Steve Wynn was reported to have raised his offer during a meeting with Governor Paterson's staff. Odato had reported at the time that the proposals were supposed to be in a final state already. Aqueduct Entertainment Group's Larry Woolf said: "It was pretty clear: You had to identify what you could do."
But the state is hardly in a position to turn down money from willing suitors at this point, so the floodgates were reopened. Apparently. If that had been previously reported, I missed it, but, as you may know, the process is shrouded in secrecy.
Bidders had until last Friday to amend financial aspects of their proposals, and have until Wednesday to make nonfinancial adjustments. [Times Union]AEG, which had offered $151 million, has added as much as $150 million if it gets 10,000 machines. Penn National, left at the gate with a piddling $5 million, rockets towards the leaders with an increase to $250 million - ha, and you thought we weren't serious. Steve Wynn has kicked in another $100 million at closing (I presume that the state is requiring suitcases of unmarked, or hell, any bills) and that amount again over the life of the contract.
Delaware North, heading a group called Aqueduct Gaming, held firm on its $100 million offer but, and again, this is all according to Odato's report, "promised another $200 million in ensuing years." Again as you may recall, the company was not amongst the three bidders reported to be the favorites by Crain's earlier this month. I speculated at the time that they seemed to be going through the motions. But I'm told by someone with connections to the group that they've made "real progress" of late with a more aggressive promotion effort.
And on Wedensday, Aqueduct Gaming issued a press release regarding their proposal. Don't expect however to read too much about the racino or the accompanying extras themselves. Only one paragraph of the three page release is dedicated to that, and there are no details regarding the "hotel, additional retail and restaurants, entertainment and other amenities based on community input." Most of the statement is instead devoted to the group's efforts to embrace and empower the surrounding community, working with it to create a facility that will both enrich and employ.
"The people of Queens expect and deserve a project that will enhance and respect their community, not detract from it," said William Bissett, a leader in the coalition of New York companies comprising Aqueduct Gaming...And again as some of you may recall, Delaware North was excoriated by the community and by politicians running for office the first time around for their perceived snub of the community, having failed at the time even to meet with the Community Board. The company has certainly taken that lesson to heart. Their proposal includes "significant input and participation from the community and advisory groups," a guaranteed minimum percentage of Queens-based employees, an effort to buy from Queens vendors, a "highly visible" Employment and Small Business Center, a Neighborhood Foundation to be funded with a portion of profits, an hourly daycare center, and extreme care to environmental issues. Perhaps we'll see Bissett himself filling potholes on Rockaway Boulevard this winter.
"As a result of our research and interaction with community leaders, Aqueduct Gaming's approach represents the right size and character of development, with specific community initiatives designed to ensure maximum benefit to the community, the thoroughbred racing industry and the state."
A repeat selection of Delaware North would no doubt rankle some who may harbor a grudge from its pulling out of the first bid because it couldn't fund the oversized $370 million upfront payment....and to those who harbor suspicions of favoritism shown towards its influential lobbyists, Patricia Lynch Associates. However, their selection could easily be portrayed as merely going with the company that the leaders felt was best all along, back with an improved plan containing an undeniably appealing community aspect. And, as we've recently seen, Albany doesn't seem all that concerned about appearance these days. So a comeback win wouldn't surprise me much at all.
- Empire Resorts, the parent company of Monticello Raceway, is proving to be quite the scrapper. First, it staved off bankruptcy by pulling off a deal to pay off one creditor, and then maneuvered to delay for 90 days a threatened recall of $65 million.
On Wednesday, it announced a $55 million investment, in return for a tad less than half of the company, by a Malaysian investment company.
Kien Huat affiliates maintain substantial interests in a multinational group of companies collectively known as Genting, that is involved in gaming, leisure, hospitality, power generation, plantations, property development, biotechnology, and oil and gas. [Times Herald Record]I'm sure that NYRA officials will be thrilled to hear that the company is keenly interested in building a casino and entertainment complex near Manhattan.
“We envision working together with the (St. Regis) Mohawks to create a regional gaming and entertainment center, which will serve the New York metro area.”