07/23/2010 11:31AM

Judge schedules hearing on Aqueduct casino bid

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A New York State Supreme Court judge Friday scheduled a hearing for July 29 to rule on whether the state acted illegally when it disqualified a group that was bidding to operate a planned casino at Aqueduct.

Judge Barry Kramer of State Supreme Court in Schenectady scheduled the hearing after listening Friday morning to arguments by attorneys for the bidding partnership, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, and the assistant district attorney, who is representing the New York Lottery and other defendants. Earlier this year, lottery officials said that members of Aqueduct Entertainment Group would be ineligible for gambling licenses, a contention that scuttled the group’s bid for the casino contract.

The Aqueduct casino was authorized by legislation in 2001, but persistent economic and political concerns have held up efforts to name an operator and have torpedoed three previous bidding processes. The lottery currently is overseeing another process to name an operator, but only one group, a Malaysian casino company called Genting New York, submitted a qualified bid, the lottery said.

AEG filed its lawsuit two weeks ago. On July 12, Kramer issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the lottery from releasing a recommendation on whether Genting should be awarded the contract, but he allowed the lottery to continue to evaluate Genting’s bid. The lottery has said it will release its recommendation Aug. 3.

Jennifer Givner, a spokeswoman for the lottery, said that Kramer reiterated during the Friday hearing that lottery could continue to evaluate Genting’s bid.

The lottery was joined Friday by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce and eight state breeding operations, which together filed a friend of the court brief arguing that AEG’s attempt to halt the process to name an operator for the casino would cause irreparable harm to the state’s racing industry and Saratoga’s economy.