The six aspiring racino operators who put up their $1 million to qualify for the latest round in the Big A sweepstakes convened in a conference at the site on Tuesday. There, they asked questions, and were filled in on the details they need to devise their final bids, due on June 29. The Lottery is to make its recommendation, binding to the governor, on Aug 3. If all of that goes smoothly, I would then expect final approval from the others to come quickly, as I've said before. I don't believe that Sheldon Silver will oppose any bidder properly vetted by the Lottery; and the Senate Democrats, under investigation for their role in the AEG mess, will meekly go along with just about anyone other than Faisal Shahzad or Dean Skelos at this point.
One might wonder however if any of the bidders will wish to continue after what they heard. Lottery director Gordon Medenica pointed out what the contestants probably already knew; that they are in the running for “The highest-ever payment for the highest-taxed gaming operation in the country." [Queens Courier]
And he also pointed out that "The prime beneficiary is the state not the operator." [Crain's New York] Indeed, while the $1 million entry fee is fully refundable, the $300 million license fee is not should issues arise with licensing or other contractual issues once the money is paid just ten calendar days after the final award is announced (with great fanfare at Saratoga I'm sure).
Lottery even noted that although Con Edison has said it will be able to bring more power to the area to run the video slot machines, the state is not providing guarantees. [Crain's]At this point I imagine that Charlie Hayward would assign employees to sit inside the machines with calliopes and bells and whistles Flinstones-style if that what it takes. (And I'm sure that Lottery will guarantee that its scratch-off tickets will be available for sale.)
Bidders such as SL Green Realty Group, Delaware North and Penn National Gaming have already ponied up a lot of time and money into previously botched rounds to build and operate Aqueduct and it was unclear whether these groups would be willing to go at it again under these new conditions. [Crain's]So, what if we had a selection process that finally made sense and nobody shows up for the dance?
Meanwhile, James Odato reports on Capitol Confidential that the board of the Empire State Development Corp unanimously approved the $25 million loan which will keep NYRA going until slots get going; in theory, anyway. The agreement still needs approvals by the offices of attorney general and state comptroller.. I got an email from a reader wondering if such approval is guaranteed!! But the attorney general wants no part of this mess once he becomes governor; and the state comptroller wants NYRA around so he can kick them around to help boost his re-election campaign when he announces the findings of his investigation of its finances . So I'm not at all concerned.
- This is the time of year when you have to endure my rantings and ravings about all of the great outdoor events in NYC...especially, of course, the concerts, of which there are many, most though not all of them free, at sites such as the South Street Seaport, Central Park, Prospect Park (not looking good weather-wise for tonight's opener featuring Norah Jones), the East River State Park in Williamsburg, Pier 54, and Governor's Island!! Woo!!
Last night was the Museum Mile Festival on Fifth Avenue, when the avenue uptown is closed to vehicles, and nine museums are generous enough to open their doors for free. Among the exhibits we saw was the Otto Dix show at the Neue Galerie, well worth the half hour wait to get in on a gorgeous NY evening. And among the street entertainers was the one and only Silly Billy! I imagine that he's trying to resurrect his career, like Eminem. I think the last time I saw him was at Belmont Park, back at a time when NYRA would bring in top talent to feature in its family days on Sundays...an effort which, like so many other facets of horse racing in New York, has long been abandoned. Hopefully, better times lie ahead.