04/16/2003 11:00PM

MGM and NYRA in slots deal

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MGM Mirage Inc., the owner and operator of 14 casinos around the world, will be responsible for Aqueduct's video lottery terminal operation - if and when VLT's are installed at the track - New York Racing Association announced Thursday.

The NYRA, which owns Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Racecourse, made the selection despite uncertainty over when and if legislation authorizing slot machines at a handful of New York tracks will be modified to make it more palatable to tracks. The legislation also is being challenged by anti-slot machines groups that claim the bill is unconstitutional.

If the legislation is modified and survives the anti-slot lawsuit, Aqueduct is expected to be able to install 4,500 slot machines, which would make it the largest operation of its kind in the country.

Details of the deal with MGM were not released.