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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Familiar Refrain

The Times reported on Tuesday:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said the decision “could come at any moment” but then added that it could still be weeks away.
Sounds familiar, don't it? “There is no timetable or deadline for the decision, but as the governor indicated last week, he expects a final decision soon," has been a familiar refrain from the Paterson administration regarding the Big A racino. Gibbs of course was talking about the timetable for President Obama making a determination on Afghanistan.

I wonder which decision will come first. And what kind of odds I could get on the proposition over in the UK. And what's the before/after date now? There was a time when before Labor Day seemed a sure thing, imagine that. I reported last week that this could be the week, and perhaps it still will be. But I also reported that new information from the bidders was due last week; and who knows what kind of new potential issues could have surfaced?

A couple of other propositions worth considering: Who will break the news of the winner first? I make Tom Precious the favorite at 3-4, Odato at 7-5, Danny Hakim 5-1, Elizabeth Benjamin 10-1, Hegarty 10-1, Paul Post 15-1, Left at the Gate 99-1. And I put the over/under on how many more articles that Post can cook up before something actually happens at five.

A reader sent along the text of a couple of letters to the editor in response to an Oct 11 editorial in Crain's that endorsed the SL Green group (subscription only). One is written by Wynn Resorts' Senior VP and General Counsel Kim Sinatra, in response to the column's contention that Wynn, though he brings "glitz," "faltered with a similar project in Mississippi." She claims that the Beau Rivage is "the highest-grossing casino in its market, and "currently outpaces the
brand-new Hard Rock Casino, built less than a mile away."
Wynn Resorts' 40-year track record of success in the gaming industry is not based upon “glitz.” Our success is based on attention to detail, keen financial analysis and a deep understanding of local regions. In every market where Wynn Resorts is in competition with the Hard Rock brand, we have outperformed them, producing approximately 10 times more in gaming revenue.

Moreover, Wynn Resorts recently completed an initial public offering of a portion of our Macau operations, generating proceeds of approximately $1.9 billion, giving us free cash for more commitment to New York. Bottom line: We don't have to shop for credit.
That last line sure sounds like something Wynn would say. I must say, as a blogger wondering what he's going to blog about once this thing is finally over, that Wynn has the most potential to provide future fodder for fun. I find that he's just a bit off kilter....and his grandiose plan for Aqueduct is more than just a bit off; it's just a plain pisser. I noticed that Ms. Sinatra had no response to Crain's contention that "his plans overshoot the market." (Anyone have any insight on the veracity of her claim that they out-produce Hard Rock 'approximately 10 times?')

A couple of notes on SL Green's two main partners: I wonder what the presence of Jeff Gural does for their chances. Gural has been a pain in the neck as far as at least some legislators are concerned; he was one of the driving forces in the racinos getting a bigger share of revenues last year. (And who could argue that the increase in marketing allowances isn't at least partly responsible for the New York racinos' resiliency in the face of the poor economy over the last year?)

And of course, the Hard Rock comes with the Seminoles, and this reader, referencing the ongoing situation in Florida, offers that they are "not exactly a desirable partner to government officials.....Do we really want these guys operating in New York State?" I've periodically followed the situation there where the tribe has been operating its blackjack games in violation of state law, and in the strange netherland of Federal Indian regulations. With talks over Governor Crist's latest compact proposal stalled, the Florida House of Representatives last week formally asked the federal government to shut the games down. I wouldn't hold my breath considering that the state Attorney General Bill McCollum unsuccessfully went down that route just about a year ago. McCollum wrote to the same National Indian Gaming Commission that House Speaker Larry Cretul did. Different chairman now, but my guess is that the result will be the same. Maybe they should try the wildcat formation.

- For those of you who are interested....and apparently, there are some....only 338 days until the 2010 Ryder Cup on Oct 1, 2010 in Wales!

- Marian Gaborik Completes a Marian Gaborik Hat Trick reads the headline on New York Magazine's Sports Section blog. "Two goals, an assist, and an injury." Very funny.


Steve Munday said...

Hard to say which state has made a bigger CF out of getting slots at racetracks: NY, MD or KY. I'll vote for MD simply because MEC's bankruptcy debacle played a part. Just sad to witness what these once great and proud racing circuits are reduced to . . .

BTW, count me as a Ryder Cup fan and thanks for the update - can't wait! You may want to tell BC Ltd that unlike every other PGA event, the Ryder Cup doesn't have purses or pay prize money to the players. Do they want to follow that model too?

Anonymous said...

Biggest CF? Got to be New York.

The legislative authorization for the VLT's was signed into law by Governor George E. Pataki eight years ago tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Interesting information. Thanks for your unique spin as well!

Seems odd that the NYRA endorsed SL Green as a good citizen and qualified vendor, yet they weren't immediately selected? My guess is Green/NYRA may have been conisdered but rejected. The NYRA's true favorite has always been Delaware North, so we'll see if Governor David Paterson, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate President Malcolm Smith bite this rotten apple again. Wouldn't they look absolutely foolish if they picked DelNorth again at a much reduced fee? What about all the time and money DelNorth cost the state between the time they defaulted this past spring and now? If Delaware North's name comes out of the hat, litigation will be a probable outcome and maybe the racino at Aqueduct never gets built (Many folks desire this in Albany and at the NYRA), and the whole concept moves over to Belmont Park.

The saga continues..... Alan, I doubt you're at 99-1 to report first. Just a hunch!

Anonymous said...

If Gural's team wins the Aqueduct award will he want them to spend a ton of money on advertising and marketing for customers that could be taken away from his Sands Casino in Bethlehem,Pennsylvania? Gural has enough gaming presence already with his standardbred racinos and his casino in PA. he surely doesn't need to control another.

ljk said...

Amusing bit in the local paper:

Our Governor Charlie pretending he didn't know Obama was in the state and instead "Crist was visiting the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood for a 40th anniversary celebration with tribal leaders".

What a mess.

I have a friend who has visited Wales and says it's very nice.

El Angelo said...

The pre-entries for the Breeders Cup Turf is just embarassing.

Steve Zorn said...

Still dreaming of those promised $60,000 maiden races (we're running for $42,000 this afternoon, which means you have to win two races a year just to pay the training and vet bills). But it may not ever come; long story in the Times' business section on Sunday about the (latest) decline in Atlantic City. Half the casinos there are in bankruptcy or foreclosure. I'd guess the profits from the Big A slots palace will be be a lot less than even currently anticipated. If you're out of work or if your pension has vanished, maybe you can buy a lottery ticket a couple of times a week, but it gets tough to come up with enough cash to feed the slots regularly (see, e.g., decline in thoroughbred racing handle).

Anonymous said...

somebody mentioned in a prior post that Andrew Berg of Gumpster Stable had been indicted as part of the internet betting bust based in Panama led by some guy Joseph Fafone an alleged Gambino crime family associate. Berg was always at the NY tracks on the phone doing something in the high rollers area. Has there been anything on this in any of the horse trades or NY press since last week?

ljk said...

Think El Angelo is right and that's another issue with running on synthetic. The best Turf horse in the US and the best of the Euro shippers will instead be in the Classic, cannibalizing the Turf.

Pondering Avioli's idea of making the BC more of a US vs. the World Ryder Cup type deal, how about running the Turf races on the Turf in Europe Friday and the dirt races on the dirt in the US on Saturday? Come up with some kind of point scale and give a trophy (to somebody). You could even do US vs. Euro vs. Middle East. This year my money would be on the Middle East and Godolphin. They're loaded.

Distaff... a short but very good field, a great looking betting race.

El Angelo said...

The real race that's been annihilated in recent Breeders Cups is the Sprint, as the Dirt Mile, F&M Sprint and (to a much lesser extent) the Turf Sprint have taken away a slew of interesting horses. How much better would the Sprint be if Midshipman, Pyro, Informed Decision, and Sara Louise were all running in it? Instead, the Sprint is a smaller affair that's unlikely to yield a bomb.

Anonymous said...

Zen first preference is Classic, still do not understand the indecision.

steve in nc said...

I vote we declare victory on both fronts, bring the troops home, and let the Pentagon handle the racino contract (AQ and BEL could both use some $5,000 toilet seats).

Anonymous said...

What prevents the State of NY from taking over the situation at Aqueduct and just getting it done mysitifies me? You need to see who the community really wants, what the local leaders demand and keep the contracting and development money in Queens, or at least NYCity as best you can.

Quite simple really, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

anon 6pm, you are absolutely correct, it IS simple, if only goverment were not involved.

IF this was a private deal it would be up and running but like everything run by the govt it is a cf.

Those in favor of a public option, be forewarned, be careful what you wish for.

alan said...

>>Those in favor of a public option, be forewarned, be careful what you wish for.

The premiums at my company just went up by 30%, courtesy of Aetna. I'd take my chances with a public option over these scumbags any day. I

ballyfager said...

Philly is running $44,000 MDSpWt right now. That being the case, I don't think Aqueduct will have any trouble hitting the $60,000 figure once they're up and running.

But my recollection is that some NY officials were predicting $100,000 MdSpWt!

Glimmerglass said...

>> El Angelo said: The pre-entries for the Breeders Cup Turf is just embarassing.

I can't disagree with you and frankly the BC folks can just mail the check overseas this week.

That said lets take a look back to 1996 for a true embarassment in the Breeders Cup.

Yes revisit the jaw droppingly amazing (and not in a good way) entry of Rick's Natural Star

Roll the tape: 1996 NBC Sports report on Rick by Tom Durkin

The "I train him by hooking him up to the pickup and drive 30-mph" is still one of those you-couldn't-make-this-up events.

He finished nearly 30-seconds after the winner. Retired in Paris, KY where he happily lives today far away from Dr. Livingston.

Anonymous said...

Bally, but what is the government take (tax) on the VLTs in PA? Beleive, but not certain, that NY's tax rate is much higher.

Alan, no one is defending the existing insurance companies, but there are ways to get it done without the public option, tort reform and opening up competition over state lines, for instance, that should be tried first.

Speak to someone experiencing the joys of government run health care in the UK or Canada before proposing here. It costs less for the individual, but he countries are broke and the quality of care abysmal.

Overal costs (individual and goverment) will only come down with non-goverment competition, when a Geico or Progressive type company is allowed to compete nationwide and offer a variety of products.

I love my current health savings account with accompanying high deducatable plan. It will be outlawed when this law is passed and I will be REQUIRED to instead purchase much higher cost plan that covers way more conditions that I do not want and will never need.

This is nothing but a tax and is in fact unconstitutional which I will first in line to challenge in court.

ballyfager said...

@Anon. 6:19 - I don't know offhand what the existing take on slots is in PA. But table games are coming soon and they're dickering over what the take will be for that. Estimates range as high as 37 PERCENT. Also, the horsemen will get no share of table games.

I think the ongoing problem everywhere with this issue is that the greed of politicians is breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

PA has an effective 55% tax rate on the slots. The vendor must buy the machines which i think run about $15,000 each. In NY, the Lottery purchases and owns the machines.

There will be a minimum 17%, maybe as high as 25% purse reduction in PA in the not too distant future. Too much money subsidizing an industry that hasn't proven itself to be worth the investment. PA is not a "traditional" racing state like NY or MD, so I'm not sure how it will prove itself worthy of the state's kindness to the tune of about $240 million a year for both standardbred and thoroughbred racing, breeding and healtcase/pension programs. As mentioned, the industry buzz is that this generosity is about to change.