Governor Paterson and legislative leaders met behind closed doors in Manhattan on Thursday in an attempt to resolve the selection of an operator for the long-stalled Aqueduct casino project; this according to Tom Precious, reporting for Bloodhorse.com. (Not surprisingly, the topic did not come up during a public session earlier in the day.
No announcement came immediately after the session broke up. The evening of Oct. 29 source said no final deals were made in the meeting. [Bloodhorse]Prior to the meeting, I was told by someone with knowledge of the situation of an impasse between Senate Majority Leader John Sampson, who is "insisting" on Aqueduct Entertainment Group, and the governor along with the Assembly, who are wary of the group. AEG is said to have failed to satisfy the Budget Division and Lottery due to questions about its financing and equity partners without licenses. Precious reports that the Assembly wanted far more details....about individuals who may be connected in some financial ways to some of the bidders.
It seems almost beyond comprehension, even (perhaps) in Albany, that the Senate Majority Leader would be holding out for a company with any kind of doubt about its financing (no less one deemed to be "not competitive" as I was told) given the attention supposedly being paid to that aspect of the bids after the collapse of the Delaware North deal. (Remember when integrity was the buzz word?) But if this is indeed the case, one might very well recall the ties between AEG and the former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, as well as the recent report that Smith has his eye on a cushy casino job with the group. And it would certainly be fair to speculate (and this is strictly that) about a possible arrangement between the two men, perhaps as part of the change in leadership after the coup.
This information contradicts the report by Fred Dicker a couple of weeks ago in which he cited sources that claimed that it was Paterson who was insisting that AEG should remain in contention despite the Lottery's concerns. Frankly, the idea that it is Sampson makes more sense.
Precious also notes that this is the 8th anniversary of Governor Pataki signing into the legislation which legalized video lottery terminals at racetracks. On November 1, 2001, the New York Times reported:
Since taking office in 1995, Mr. Pataki has repeatedly promoted legalized gambling but has usually been thwarted by the Legislature. Since the spring, when waning state revenue persuaded many lawmakers to take a second look at gambling and the governor announced the outlines of a deal with the Senecas, it seemed that this year the dam would break. The destruction of the World Trade Center helped the package sail through, 52 to 8 in the Senate, and 92 to 41 in the Assembly.I'd say that Pennsylvania is the Eastern state with the most legal gambling; and if it isn't yet, it certainly will be. The Catskills casinos have not materialized, and no one could have imagined at the time that, eight years later, Aqueduct would not be among the racetracks with slots. Sounds like we're still a ways off.
The stunning breadth of the bill would make New York the Eastern state with the most legal gambling if it all survives the expected legal challenges. The law allows for three Seneca casinos, three more Indian-run casinos in the Catskills, video lottery terminals at racetracks, and New York's enlistment in the Powerball multistate lottery.