This is the week that New York racing thought would never come. Genting, LLP NY, a Malaysian casino company, has been chosen to operate the VLTs that have long awaited installation at Aqueduct. The company has superseded the bureaucratic and political machinations that have stymied every previous potential VLT operator in the state, and will commence build-out of the first 1600 machines within 6 months of getting the contract. Even thought that contract hasn't yet been signed, things are looking hopeful, as Governor Paterson and the NY state senate have approved the choice. At any rate, one would think that NY state is not really in a position to turn down the 380 million that Genting has promised to deliver upfront for licensing. That alone should be able to guide the powers that be to apply their signatures and get the process started.
There could be many great changes in store for the NY racing industry if this VLT money actually comes through. For one, NYRA has committed to broad scale renovations that will bring its tracks to a higher aesthetic standard and improve backstretch conditions. But more than that, the money will hopefully boost the beleaguered NY breeding industry, and provide greater state funds for ancillary programs like safety initiatives and racehorse retirement programs. And that just makes good horse sense.
As a person who loves working at Aqueduct, I'm thrilled by this news. Aqueduct is the ultimate location for an eventual casino resort - it is one stop on the A train from the Airtrain service to JFK airport; the A train goes directly to Times Square in Manhattan, it is on the Belt Parkway so is accessible by car without going on surface streets in Queens - it's just perfect. Plus Ozone Park is already a safe and quiet neighborhood - well, it's quiet when the planes aren't flying directly overhead - and it's not like there would have to be some sort of massive community clean-up to bring in tourists safely.
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