04/01/2016 2:51PM

Casino at Aqueduct adding 1,000 slot machines


Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct racetrack will be allowed to operate 1,000 additional slot machines under an unusual deal brokered as part of the state’s back-room budget negotiations.

Under the deal, the machines will technically be awarded to Nassau County Off-Track Betting Corporation but will be installed at the Resorts World casino, perhaps as early as April 1. Resorts World currently operates 5,400 slot machines at the casino, which has become one of the most lucrative gambling properties on the East Coast and contributes tens of millions of dollars annually in subsidies to Aqueduct’s operator, the New York Racing Association, and its horsemen.

Nassau had been given the right to open a 1,000-slot machine casino in legislation in 2013, but the county-owned company’s efforts to open the facility have been blocked by local groups opposed to gambling and additional traffic. Genting, the owner of Resorts World, had also opposed Nassau’s plans because of the competition that a new casino would have presented to its own operation.

The deal was approved by both houses of the New York state legislature Friday morning as part of the state’s budget.

In each of the first two years that the new bloc of machines is in operation, Genting will pay Nassau OTB $9 million, according to the deal. After that, Genting will pay Nassau $25 million each year for the right to operate the machines, with the amount indexed to inflation for the succeeding years.

Although Genting, by statute, is required to contribute a portion of its casino revenues to NYRA and its horsemen, the new machines will be treated as a different entity, according to officials. As a result, it is not clear if any of the revenue from the 1,000 new machines will go to the racing industry. The 2013 legislation granting Nassau the casino rights included a hold-harmless clause that would have required a small percentage of revenue to go to racing, but only if gambling at Resorts World declined and the racing industry’s subsidy was negatively impacted.

“It’s a very, very complicated deal, and the ink is still wet,” said Rick Violette, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which employs a lobbyist in Albany. “Our lobbyist is poring over it and we should have some answers in a few days.”