The New York Times reports that Jeffrey E. Levine, a partner in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, confirmed that his company had agreed to all of the conditions set by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. And thus, yes, it's true. We have a winner.
Well, probably. There's just the little matter of that contract between AEG and the state which the governor's office hopes to hammer.....in the next 30 days with AEG covering the obligations for the operation of the casino. [DRF] I'm sure that won't be a big deal.
Here's the list of what the Speaker extracted out of the group (those being made public anyway):
* The up-front licensing fee will be increased from $200 million to $300 million.Tom Precious' story changed with the events throughout the day. He originally reported that sources informed him that Paterson was selecting AEG because he actually did not want them; hoping and believing that the Assembly would balk. But now Precious suggests a reason why AEG may have suddenly become appealing to the embattled governor.
* The facility will occupy no more space that the previously-approved plans submitted by MGM – before they walked away from the project years ago.
* No approval shortcuts will be allowed.
* All investors and just about anyone else with any responsibilities will have to get a license from the State Division of the Lottery.
* Anyone who has been denied a gaming license in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world can’t have a license.
* Anyone convicted of a felony in the past 15 years – or tax evasion, fraud, “larceny of any sort, theft, misappropriation or conversion of funds” is likewise out.
[Rev. Floyd] Flake was most recently in the news suggesting he might support Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run for governor against Paterson in what promises to be, if it happens, a divisive Democratic primary. Flake, however, did not close the door to supporting Paterson.As you may know, it had been thought all along that Flake's presence in the group was meant to appeal to Senator Malcolm Smith, so that would be an odd twist. It will certainly be interesting to see what Flake does.
Paterson is the state's first African-American governor, and there are signs that a number of key black Democrats are getting set to ask Paterson to step aside for a Cuomo run, possibly as soon as the weekend of Jan. 30. Paterson's poll numbers have been improving, though they are still in the political basement, and Cuomo has five times as much money in the campaign bank as the governor.
A Flake endorsement of Paterson could be used by allies of the governor to slow down Cuomo’s inroads with black Democratic leaders. [Bloodhorse]
The Times surmises that the jilted bidders could pose a problem.
But the long awaited decision could still run into trouble from rival bidders, including Penn National, which said it was “shocked and dismayed” by the governor’s decision because it had submitted the highest offer for an upfront payment, $300 million. [NY Times]However, if it's true that AEG has agreed to pay that much (still $70 million short of the Delaware North deal which fell apart), that argument would be partly negated. Still, I for one would like to know just why it is.... and what is so outstanding about AEG's bid.....that the Senate leadership was so adamant and stubborn in its support for a company with no experience operating racinos, a modest portfolio of gambling properties, and which was offering $101 million less than the highest bidder at a time when the state is in dire fiscal straits.